It’s a poor choice editorially for a writer to follow one heartbreak story with another--and I understand that--but kids in England with no beds and Teshawn’s fragile little existence came one-on-top-of-the-other, so what’s a guy to do? There’s a saying about trees falling in forests and, if no one’s there to hear them, do they really make a sound? I’ve always been kidded for my oversized ears.
The tree will make a sound, even if nobody hears it, simply because it could have been heard. We can define sound as our perception of air vibrations. Therefore, sound does not exist if we do not hear it. When a tree falls, the motion disturbs the air and sends off air waves.
Teshawn (no last name as yet) fell out of his mother’s arms like a tree in the forest on New Year’s Eve and heartbreak is part of the story. We are as addicted to stories of heartbreak as we are to those of bravery or courage in the face of imminent danger. Fortunately for Teshawn there was an ear to hear—or at least an eye to notice the small box by the side of an Alaskan road with a blanket and a rosy little newborn tucked inside.
Tucked indeed, with a note alongside.
This was not abandonment in the usual sense of the word. The dictionary suggests “withdrawing support or help despite allegiance or responsibility” as a definition and this certainly was not that. The accompanying note was written in the 1st person, as if Teshawn himself had noodled it out with his tiny fingers:
“Please help me! My parents and grandparents don’t have food or money to raise me. They NEVER wanted to do this to me. My mom is so sad to do this. Please take me and find me a LOVING FAMILY. My parents are begging whoever finds me. My name is Teshawn.”
That’s both bravery and courage in the face of imminent danger by Teshawn’s broken-hearted mother. I have a vision of her watching from out-of-sight to be sure he’s picked up, otherwise to swoop in and relocate him. But then, I am attracted to the better side of human nature in spite of the evidence. My prejudice is that we are open-hearted one on one, but less so for fallen trees in the forest.
Roxy Lane, who found Teshawn, was quoted, giving my theory credence.
“I’ve been processing my feelings all day and running through all the different scenarios and reasons, with my boyfriend and family, as to why something like this could have happened. I hope the mother gets the help she might need. I doubt they could have afforded to take her to the hospital and she may be in need of medical attention. Please, someone who knows this new mom, check on her! She might be in a desperate situation, feeling abandoned herself.”
Roxy used the discovery of Teshawn to call for unity in the Fairbanks community.
“Clearly, someone in our community felt so lost and hopeless that they made probably the hardest choice of their lives to leave that innocent life on the side of the road with nothing but some blankets and a name. But she named him! There's some love there, even if she made a terrible decision. I know we're all struggling, I see it. I see you. I love you all and I'm here. Today I saved a baby and I’ll probably think about Teshawn for the rest of my life.”
But the story is larger, as most stories are.
We have laws and institutions but, from top to bottom, they represent forests of people—340 million trees, from young and tender sprouts to old timber like me. And here’s the rub, there’s not an arborist among them. No one in politics knows a maple from an ash tree.
To leave the metaphor behind, no one who makes the laws that affect little newborn Teshawn has ever come close to understanding his mother. She may well be living in the back of a broken down and decrepit car, or doing okay in public housing with a monthly allowance for each of her children. There’s no way to know. We’re no longer tribal, much less caring for our neighbors. If a tree falls in this vast forest we call American society, who is there to hear it?
As for the year ahead, Teshawn will be okay because his story is a heartbreak and some loving family with two or three kids will make room for yet another. And that’s great. That’s how we ought to be. And there’s a further message there during our political estrangement—if we heard each other’s tree fall--liberals and conservatives would each realize we’re all inhabitants of one national forest.
So, there I go, turning a heartbreak story into political metaphor.
Yeah, guilty as charged. But that’s what we have to do friends, get a grip on the commonality that has always made America a sustainable forest and stop judging the immigrants we all are or were. Teshawn isn’t even a tree yet, just a hopeful sprout, but he may grow tall and straight if we let him.
“I see it. I see you. I love you all and I'm here.” That’s Rory Lane again and perhaps it’s time to remind ourselves to see the problems that divide us, see the people who are hurting and are not us, love them all and let them know we are here and they are not alone. It would be a good thing to nurture Teshawn’s sprout into becoming a tree and put our arms around his devastated mother.