open hands

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In the quiet of the ultrasound room with a galaxy of projector-stars overtop and classical music playing on the radio, I put my hands on Sweet M’s unresponsive little body and finally felt some of the emotion of the day seep through. Not too much because the tech was in the next room speaking with the radiologist about the results. I wasn’t about to be embarrassed in front of the medical professionals.

I had felt fairly calm until now. When I called Wendell to come home because something was wrong with the baby, when I decided he hadn’t arrived quickly enough and called 911, when I called my mom to come get the other kids, when I changed into pants (because my jammie shorts were surely not appropriate for hospital wear), packed my purse with all the papers we might need and a phone charger while Wendell took vitals and tried to get her to respond, I was calm. Preparing. I was calm in the back of the squad as Wendell drove us to the hospital so both of the medics could work on her in the back. I was calm in the trauma room when what felt like 80 people were all asking me questions at once. I was calm in the ER room while we waited on testing and tried to keep her breathing regularly and begged her to just wake up.

But in that dark, peacefully painted little room, I was left briefly alone with her. That’s when I started my own begging with God. Please. I can do surgery. I can do disease. I can do special medical needs. I can make this work long-term, but please, oh please don’t ask me to let go of this baby in this way before she’s even really mine. I laid my face beside her too-still body, and just whispered ‘open hands. open hands. open hands.’ Because if I said it enough times, maybe I’d surrender to it completely. Maybe I’d mean it in my heart, not just say it with my mind.

I know. I know none of my children are mine, and if there’s anything foster care does really really well, it’s to remind you of that fact. We live with open hearts and hands, and it all feels so good and right and holy until that moment when all you want to do with every fiber of your being is grasp as tightly as you can and never, ever let go.

IMG_2857Through the next two eternally long days in the hospital, through the eight different blood draws, the countless vitals checks, the room changes, the sleepless nights, I whispered it over and over in my head. This baby. She’s not mine. Every moment I get to spend with her is a gift. Every smile. Every lick-kiss. Every time her little voice says ‘mama’. Every single moment is grace.

We’re home now, she seems well, and we have no answers. We have no guarantees it will never happen again. A part of me feels like it’s not over yet. A bigger part of me wants to forget it ever happened at all. There’s that moment burned into my memory of getting into the squad with this sick little baby while the rest of my children are sobbing on the porch. That’s a part I’d just as soon let go of.

So I continue to pray the same words I’ve been praying for days now, knees to the earth:

It’s all Yours, Jesus, and it’s all grace. Here I am, all of this for You.
Open hands.

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