This post is part of the “Donning a Cape” mini-series, a series of posts about families who are making a difference for orphans around the world.
We share an anniversary this weekend and birthdays one day apart and were actually IN CHINA bringing home our superheroes the very same week. But we didn’t become friends (and THEN meet, because that’s how we roll in the military and adoption communities) until months after we had brought home and fallen in love with the superheroes who completely rocked our worlds.
Erin was a military spouse friend of some military spouse friends, and from the moment our third-party friend sent me a link to her blog, I knew I needed more of her family in my life.
Erin had a beautiful way with words. She shared in real and raw ways about adoption, homeschooling, kid-raising and camping (I’m still stealing her firepit recipes), and the light of Jesus just emanated from the pages of her blog.
I followed her story as she documented the adventures of HER 2-year-old Chinese orphan-no-more, Bekah, who loved watermelon, named her doll “Adverb” and learned English faster than any of my American-born children ever did.
I read about Bekah’s integration with the four other superheroes their family already had in their home, and how she, who had barely been introduced to a car seat, jumped right into the hiking/camping/adventure-seeking mix with reckless abandon, even despite congenital heart conditions that should have theoretically slowed her down.
I fell in love with this little superhero who this family told repeatedly was their girl “forever and ever and ever.”
And I sobbed as I followed Erin’s journey through Bekah’s complicated heart surgery that, three weeks later, ended in a farewell here on Earth and a homecoming up in Heaven.
There were and are no words to describe the way my heart grieved for this family’s loss. I couldn’t even fathom losing Superhero 3, who was the same age and had been in our family for the exact same amount of time as their superhero, and I couldn’t stop weeping for this family who had just lost the little girl I knew they felt like they had loved since the beginning of time.
In a feeble effort to try and comfort this family who I felt so connected to by our military and adoption experiences, I wrote Erin, who I had never met but whom I dearly loved from reading her honest, vulnerable and heart-felt blog posts, a snail mail letter. I prayed that somehow the prayers of a fellow adoptive mama with an eight-months-home Chinese angel might comfort her in the loss of hers.
Erin, whose strength and joy in the deepest trial of her life both moved and motivated me to REMEMBER WHY we were called to care about orphans, then friend requested me on Facebook. And right away, as we began messaging and participating in one another’s lives, she became a REAL friend — one I knew I’d have for life.
Since that day in 2014, Erin and I have texted and emailed weekly, sharing our love for Chinese superheroes-in-waiting and praying each other through the joys and challenges of adoption and superhero-raising life. She flew to Ohio (where I met her for the first time) to deliver in person love packages for Superhero 3 after his major surgery at a children’s hospital, and we flew to Colorado to participate in an event that totally rocked our worlds — an event imagined and executed by a then 7-year-old sister of a sick orphan-no-more to raise money for other superheroes-in-waiting.
In the weeks following the heart surgery that sent Bekah into a coma-like state, Lindsay, Erin’s then 7-year-old daughter, prayed fiercely for the sister she watched from beside a hospital bed.
She prayed when Bekah did not wake up from heart surgery the way she was supposed to.
She prayed when doctors told her family that, if Bekah returned home at all, it would have to be in a wheelchair.
She prayed on Bekah’s third birthday, when Bekah was unconscious in a hospital bed, for a way to honor Bekah’s birthday and life — now, she thought, in a wheelchair.
That’s when, with a sister in the hospital and a God-implanted dream in her heart, 7-year-old Lindsay imagined Bekah’s Watermelon Fun Run — a 5K, wheelchair-accessible race where attendees could enjoy watermelon (Bekah’s favorite), gather in God’s creation and raise money for Love Without Boundaries, the organization that provided for Bekah so well in China until her family could bring her home.
Lindsay drew pictures, made plans and shared the idea with Erin, who knew right away that her determined little girl would make this happen the following year.
Two days later, Bekah ditched the wheelchair, ventilator, feeding pump, and dialysis machine … and ran to Heaven. And Erin, Lindsay and the entire family gathered to honor Bekah’s short life in a way that would mean long life for many, many more superheroes to come.
On Labor Day weekend of 2015, the anniversary of Bekah’s birthday and Heaven homecoming, Bekah's family turned Lindsay’s dream into a reality and executed the first annual Bekah’s Watermelon Run+Walk+Roll … and raised more than $20,000 for the medical needs of superheroes-in-waiting.
Bekah’s life may have been short, but the love of her God, her family and their continued dedication to little Bekahs around the world means that her IMPACT will be long-lasting.
So don your capes, sweet friends, because whether you’re 7 or 77, whether you’re in the midst of grief or helping others through theirs, running faster than a speeding bullet brings hope and help to little Bekahs across the world.
"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us ..." - Hebrews 12:1
To register or find out more about Bekah’s Watermelon Run+Walk+Roll, which will be held on August 27, 2016, in Littleton, Colorado, go to http://bekahsrun5k.org.