The thing that I have held back on posting about, since our return home, and my return to communicative action, the thing that makes my heart swell and ache and my eyes burn with tears of both joy and pain, the thing that is testament to both the light of hope and love and kindness in the world and the cruelty of nature/fate/god, the thing that strains-stretches-pulls (but such beautiful, love-affirming strain) my tired heart but that I absolutely must share with you, my friends: Tanner, and the first batch of his letters, and the sweet, sweet wonder in his eyes as he read them:
What wonderful new friends you have! I exclaimed, as he opened letter after letter and unfolded drawing after drawing and card after card from children more sweet and funny and sage and generous than I thought possible. (Size and age, clearly, provide no clue to the measure of the human heart. These hearts, in such small bodies, given expression by such small hands: so open, so expansive. How do their little chests contain them?)
How can they be my friends if they’ve never met me? he asked. And I told him about how, sometimes, very special friendships form between people who only know each other through words, and pictures. People who know each other’s hearts, because they know their stories.
These are very special friends, I told him, because they’ve heard your story and it touched their hearts and made them want to hug you with words and pictures. These are very special friends, I told them, even if you never get to meet them. You can know them from their words, from their art, from the love that they’re sending you.
He nodded, solemnly, and went back to examining the lion-dragon that one such very special friend had sent him.
What friendship does, what love does, for the muscle that is the heart: make it swell, make it grow, so much that its cracks come to seem so, so small.
Because you asked… more batches of letters continue to go out to Tanner weekly, and more letters are more than welcome.