This Is Us is an American televisionseries created by Dan Fogleman that premiered on NBC on September 20, 2016. It has gained a huge fan base, including me.  The cast of characters is fascinating and multi-hued. They seem like people I either know or interact with every day, people I see in my office. The series follows siblings Kate, Kevin and Randall who share the same birthday, but not the same parents or race, as Randall was adopted after their natural sibling was stillborn. Their lives intertwine through current events, flashbacks, and not a few tears.

Actually,the tears just keep on coming. Because of some of those flashbacks, I know that Jack, the amazing father to these three, is going to die way too young. I adore this fictional man, and may have to take a bereavement day when that actually happens. :-(  This past week, William, Randall's biological father, died of cancer in his favorite city Memphis. He was on a meaningful road trip with his son, the baby he gave away only to meet again a few months before his death.  During the road trip, we saw flashbacks of William’s early life with his mother, Dorothy, his experiences in the band with his cousin Ricky, and his downward spiral into drugs with girlfriend Laurel. We witnessed the sadness and brokenness that so shaped his life. It was heart-wrenching, and all too real.

But we also saw something awesome. Randall's young life had many challenges as well, even though he was adopted into a loving home. He was undoubtably affected by his pre-birth trauma, and despite the love of his parents, they couldn't shield him from the pains and hurts of being an African-American in a white world. He had asthma, and this highly intelligent young man often went into spasms provoked by anxiety and fear. His loving adoptive father would take his face into his hands and with firm, gentle words affirm him as he looked into his eyes, and said, "Breathe, son, just breathe." The fear would vanish, and life and peace would seep back into Randall's soul.

When Randall's biological father was dying in the hospital, William was fearful and panicked. The incredible love of his adoptive father Jack, long gone at this time, enabled and empowered Randall to be to reach back into his past for just the skill and love his biological d
ad William needed at this moment. Through tears he placed his hand on the sides of his father's face, and said firmly and with anguished love, "Breathe, Dad--breathe. " William's panicked laboring ceased, he absorbed the love of his son pouring through Randall's tender hands and down his tear-stained cheeks.  He began to breathe peacefully and easily, and then he was gone.

Whew. Loving well is so important. It's the best we can ever give our children. When we patiently love in words and deed, letting them KNOW and feel to their core how valued they are, they get the only thing in life worth having besides Jesus--the ability to know and show love in the toughest moments.

I want THIS to be US.