Tuesday, 3 January 2012

By way of explanation

I owe you an explanation. We had a good thing going, you and I. And then I just disappeared. That was rude, and I'm sorry.

So what happened?

Well, early in September, my family of four became a family of five.

Normally, new arrivals to a family come with several months' advance notice, and weigh in at about 3.5kgs. Not always, as it turns out. Some of them arrive fully grown.

Skye is 19 years old, stands at least 6'1"(185cm) and weighed a very scrawny 55kgs (less than 9 stone or around 120lbs). I am pleased to say that he now weighs considerably more than that, and he continues to gain weight and build muscle mass. He has had a very difficult life, and is torn between a burning desire to turn things around and an abject fear of losing his identity.

Originally, he just needed a place to stay. He had arrived in our town - having walked 40 miles from another city - in search of his estranged father because he had nowhere else to go. He had exhausted all his other options, and was in a rather dark place. Living with his father (for reasons I am exploring in a book he and I are writing together, but do not feel released to reveal here) was a very stressful and traumatic experiment. He was on the brink of returning to a life on the streets of London. Yes, I said 'returning'.

By this time, he had befriended our sons, and was spending many nights sleeping on a mattress on the floor of my elder son's bedroom.

Permit me a proud mother's moment to interrupt my narrative in order to brag a little: my elder son has the smallest bedroom in the house. A mattress on the floor in there takes up all remaining floor space, but this has never stopped him from offering friends the opportunity to stay over when visiting the town (of course, when the friends are girls we have to make a different arrangement, but that is another story). We have several regular visitors, and have grown very fond of them. By the time we became aware of Skye's plans to head for London, many was the morning that I would go into my elder son's bedroom and find him sleeping on the mattress on the floor, while Skye had the bed.

But back to my story.

We couldn't stand by and let this lad head back to a life that had nearly killed him on more than one occasion, so we converted my studio in the loft into a bedroom and offered him a home with us. I checked with my younger son that he was okay with this arrangement, and he said two things: first, he had had a dream in which he had introduced someone to "my brothers, Björn and Skye" and secondly, that he believed that God had sent Skye to us for us to love.

People keep telling us what a wonderful thing we're doing, but that's not how it seems to us. And actually, I wish they'd stop. There was a while there when I started to 'believe my press' as the saying goes, and very nearly broke the fragile, precious thing we hold in our hands as a consequence. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (Ecc 9:10). So we do this, and we do it unstintingly. It isn't always plain sailing, as you can imagine. There have been and will continue to be some very rocky moments, and new challenges around every corner. But we love him. Simply put: I used to have two boys, and now I have three.
From left: Skye (19), Torvald (18), Björn (20)
His background is almost as far removed from ours as it possible to be, but I don't give a fig. He never had a champion before, but he does now, and woe betide the person who threatens, insults or judges him!

So what does this have to do with you, you might ask?

Simply this. I have been so occupied with the change in my family's structure and dynamic, that I have stepped down from several of my projects, including this one.

I just felt that you had the right to know.

Oh... and our younger son now frequently introduces people to "my brothers, Björn and Skye."