"It was practically perfect!" he sobbed.
The "it" to which Ethan was referring was life in China. Yes, life in the country where pollution levels make LA look clean, where people stared and laughed and spoke at him in a language he could barely understand, where we lived in concrete high rises and fought to stay alive on the lawless roads, where we were thousands of miles from family, was practically perfect. That place, in his mind, was about as good as it gets.
In many ways, it truly was. Those last few years we had about 60 school age kids, mostly homeschooled, living within about a 2 mile radius of each other. They played together or had activities together nearly every day. Many of them were kids he'd known most of his life. China might not have been the most beautiful, convenient, easy place, but it was his place. It was his home.
The grief comes at unexpected moments, like a few nights ago, when he cried himself to sleep remembering this practically perfect place. It's not that he doesn't enjoy life here; he does, but it is a harder season. We all have them. As I look back on our life in Asia, I can mark the seasons like a roller coaster of ups and downs, "loving life" chapters, and "God please help us" years.
I told Ethan that this is part of his story. It's a tougher part - maybe a part he wouldn't have written. A story can't be all perfect; it has to have conflict, struggle, even tragedy, for it to be a really good story. And God's writing a really story for him. For us.