March 16th, 2021

Asher really looks like Jizo.

Jizo is a Japanese bodhisattva. In the Buddhist tradition Jizo is the protector of small children. He is often portrayed a happy monk, with chubby cheeks and an innocent smile on his lips.

When Asher sleeps peacefully, which is actually not that often, his round little face settles into an image of utter serenity. His breathing becomes soft and gentle. When he finally relaxes, the boy smiles in his sleep.

Asher smiled like that when his mother held him in her arms yesterday.

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Asher’s mom hasn’t held her son very often during the last six weeks. After her relapse, she was in jail for a while, and now she is rehab. The young woman will be in treatment until the end of June. Karin and I are bringing Asher to the rehab facility twice a week so that the young woman can connect with her three-month-old son. They get four and a half hours together each week. That isn’t much time, but it’s all that we can do for now.

The young woman sat in a rocking chair, holding her baby boy. She said nothing. She just held Asher close, as close as she could. She looked at him in silence. I don’t know what she was thinking or what she was feeling. I didn’t ask. I let them be.

The young woman has dreams, both for herself and for Asher. She wants to come back to our house to live. She wants to raise Asher in our home, at least for the first few years. She wants to build a treehouse for Asher. Actually, she wants her younger brother to build it, but her ultimate goal is for Asher to have a treehouse in the big locust in the backyard.

The young woman dreams of taking Asher on trip one day. It will have to happen after June of 2022, because that is when the young woman finishes her parole and gets “off paper”. She wants to take Asher to Destin Beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We took her there many years ago, when she was just a girl. The beach was like a paradise for her. It is her Garden of Eden, and she wants to return to it. The young woman wants Asher to experience it with her.

First things first. The young woman has to complete her treatment before any of these dreams come true. All this will take time.

The important thing is that she still has dreams for the future. The woman wants to live. She’s strong and resilient. So is Asher.

May Jizo bless them both.

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