If you are a friend and reading this now, this is me, letting you know I’m going to lie to you. It’s not personal, and it’s not that we aren’t friends; the truth is too painful sometimes, and lying to you lets me lie to myself.
I’ve always been a person that values openness and deep honesty. But, as I’ve gotten older and increasingly dealt with difficult things, I’ve learned that while those things are essential, they have their drawbacks.
Sometimes a friend that asks how I’m doing isn’t ready for an honest answer. Or, more often, I’m not ready to admit what the honest answer is to myself or anyone else.
I recently ran one of the most brutal, simple errands of my life. A couple from our area live and work in the city in China, where our son (whom we are working to adopt) lives. Our main connection to him is through this sweet couple. They recently let us know they will be going back soon and asked if we wanted to send our son a care package. So my wife went shopping with our boys and got him a stuffed animal, some clothes, and a lego set. Then, it was my job to take the care package to this couple to pack for their trip.
I drove to the home, thinking about this boy, that I consider to be my son, halfway around the world, and the closest I can get to him is to hug this stuffed rabbit, whisper “I love you,” and hope that someday I will finally get to see him and tell him myself. We have been seeking to adopt him since May 21, 2019; that’s 1,042 days and counting. If my guess is correct, it will be at least a year more of waiting. All while he waits and hopes for a family to love him. All while he looks at a picture and dreams of a different life, outside of an orphanage, with a family. All while we miss him, he misses us, and the world continues to spin in between.
If you are my friend and ask how I’m doing, I can’t tell you that story; it’s too hard. I can’t tell you that every holiday is a mix of enjoying our amazing family and crushing sadness that one of our family is missing. I can’t tell you the guilt I feel for the days when I don’t think of our boy in China because life was busy that day.
What I can tell is I’m ok. That’s the truth. At that moment, when you ask, I’m ok. That’s all I can be, because people need me, and I can’t change global geopolitics. I’m ok because I have to be. But, dear friend, there are those moments when I’m not, and in those moments, I may lie to you and myself, and that’s ok too.