First Kiss. First Love. (2/3)

My son, Fassely and Mariama in adoration, lounging on a pirogue drifting along the Niger River. Mariama and Fassely are now both 9 years old.  She and her sister, Cheriffa, are Fassely’s lifelong best friends and soul sisters.  Their family has been living with us since both Fass and Mari were two years old.  Cheriffa and Mari have both travelled to France with us, and we support them so that they can attend a well reputed public school in Niamey.  Their little brother, Abdoulkarim, is my son Soriya’s best friend, and their little sister, Fatoum Zara (my namesake), is my daughter Indima’s best friend.  We are closer than blood, and I feel certain that my children will always have a soul connection to this family.  So will I… as I have adopted them as my Nigerien children.

This shot reminds me of a beautiful Mary Oliver poem, “Not Anyone Who Says”:
Not anyone who says, “I’m going to be
careful and smart in the matters of love,”
who says, “I’m going to choose slowly,”
but only those lovers who didn’t choose at all
but were, as it were, chosen
by something invisible and powerful and uncontrollable
and beautiful and possibly even
unsuitable —
only those know what I’m talking about
in this talking about love.