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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Emptying of Bedrooms

A neighbor of mine is from Japan. She is married to an Indonesian man who was recently deployed to Afghanistan for a year. I visited the inside of her new home for the first time about a week ago after her 4-yr-old daughter pleaded for me to come over to lunch with them. The little girl, like most children, wanted to show me her bedroom right away. I noticed her bed consisted of a crib mattress that lay on the floor. I chuckled as she showed me the Hello Kitty clock her grandmother had sent for her birthday. I've been on this earth long enough to know that Japanese grandmothers LOOOOOOVE Hello Kitty!

Another neighbor of mine "adopted" a Somali refugee family a few months ago. She helps the parents become accustomed to life in the United States by showing them how to cook with American ingredients and appliances and how to navigate through their new environment. With rent eating most of the Somali father's $800/month income, they have little left for food, furniture, clothing, toiletries, diapers and other basics for their six children aged six months to 13 years. Last Sunday, this friend distributed a list to the women's group at church of needed items: clothing, deodorant, toilet paper, diapers. At the bottom of the list was the "Wishful Thinking" section: beds, books, dressers.

It is time.

It has been six months since the three foster children we had planned on adopting moved out and their rooms still stay as they were when they left. Hubby recently started using the dresser in The Boys' room as a desk. It's odd to come into the room and find the bunkbeds silently standing behind him as he works. The 5-year-old's name is still scribbled in crayon on the side of his 8-year-old brother's bedboard. A small smile stretches my lips every time I see that. I am the one who taught him how to write his name.

I wander into the 6-year-old girl's room. In it sits her bed with the gold headboard. A framed stitchwork of the word "LOVE" hangs overhead. My mind imprints pink furry boas and glittery necklaces hanging off the doorknob. I blink, and they're gone. It's time for the beds and dressers to follow suit. Ah, to be a genie.

I call my Japanese friend and tell her I have an extra twin bed lying around and would she be interested in it for her daughter. She is absolutely ecstatic that I am giving it to her for free. We set up a delivery time for the next day.

I am excited too to give these things new purpose… until I open the closet door to Baby Girl's room.

"Awww, my baby girl's comforter!"

I bought this bed set specifically for her. It made her feel special. I momentarily consider keeping it but rationalize that with all twin-size beds heading out of our home, this must go too.

Delivering the bed to my Japanese friend's house is an interesting experience. She is confused about the bed frame lifting the bed up off the floor. Hubby and I teach her the order of bed-making and how to use a comforter. It is good we are there to put on the bed skirt and sham. I see her face light up when she understands what to tuck in and what to fold over. The 4-yr-old announces she is tired and needs to take a nap in her new bed. Mom has no objections.

I call the friend mentoring the Somali family and ask if bunkbeds are acceptable. She is delighted at my question and adds "I was thinking bunkbeds would be perfect for the small bedroom!" She becomes even more excited when I tell her about the two dressers.

"I almost didn't put them on the list because I thought 'Who's going to have dressers lying around?'"

I decide to turn The Boys' room into the holding room for donations awaiting pick-up and spend the next two days traveling through my house looking for anything I can let go to the Somali family: clothes, toys, children's books, linens. I fill several boxes and line them up on the dresser in The Boys' room. I pull and push the dresser from Baby Girl's room into The Boys' room.

I return to Baby Girl's room. All that remains now are the peach curtains I made to match her bedding and the "LOVE" framed on the wall.

The room is empty. My heart is full.