Monday, May 16, 2016

I know, I know. Words are few around here of late. I've been trying to figure it all out, I suppose. My life seems segmented, like I'm just living in a series of snapshots, waiting for the whole thing to flow a little more freely than it has been.

Saying goodbye to Little Man has been much more difficult than I ever imagined. He is not the child we have had the longest, he is not the child with whom I've bonded the deepest, and above all, he is not the child that we want in any way, shape, or form to be ours forever. We are thrilled beyond expectation that he is returning home to his family. His mom is a rock star, and I cannot say enough good things about her. His brothers and sister adore him, and he is loved deeply. I think that's why I've been caught off guard by the depths of the grief I'm feeling. I've spent entire weekends in a sobbing mess, unable to really even function normally. I drop him off and immediately want to spend the entire time he's gone in bed, shut off from the world. In the meantime, I feel neurotic about how sad I feel. Is it normal? Am I having a nervous breakdown? Why on earth am I sad when I want him to go home so badly?

I think part of it is the intensity of the time I've spent with this particular child. He has been a challenge, maybe one of the biggest challenges of my life. I have been physically and emotionally exhausted for the nearly eight months he's been with us, and I think some of this heavy grief is just let-down from the overwhelming experience I'm getting ready to be done with. I think part of it is the intense joy he's brought to my life. He is the happiest of children most of the time, and his smile is absolutely contagious. His 'lub you, mama's make my heart lift with delight.

When I picked him up tonight, he was so happy to see me, yet the minute we turned off of his road, he was asking to go back. Seeing his little smiley face in my rear view mirror, hearing him ask if we can sing 'down to the ribber', watching him clap his little hands, all of that fills me with immediate joy, followed by stinging tears. I find myself taking mental pictures of every memory, hoping not to lose it forever.

We've sent kids home forever, and their time with us seems mostly lost now. Every once in awhile I'll get the stab of a fleeting memory, but it's always tinged with regret that I don't remember more. I don't remember how they smelled, what their voices sounded like, how their hair felt in my fingers. So when I hold him tight as he falls asleep, clinging long after he's drifted off, I'm trying to capture all those things in my mind, knowing that it won't be long before Little Man's memories are gone to me too.

I don't know what it feels like to lose a child to death. I only know that this feels like hell. I have only days more as his mama, and I want to stretch out every minute even as I want to rip the band aid off and get it over with already. My relationship with him as it is will die. A permanent, irrevocable death. I might get to see him again; I certainly hope that's true, but when I do, I'll be the stranger again. Maybe I'll never see him again. There are no guarantees in this business. Maybe his mama will text me a picture, like the one we received of a former foster child this week, and I'll feel that loss all over, or maybe I'll grieve because we don't know what happens in his life and I will never hold him in my arms again. I want to be able to see what he grows up to be. I want to know that his curiosity and his mechanical skills take him far. I want to know that he won't forget us, even as I know that he definitely will. I want to tell him I'll love him forever, because that's true, but I know he will likely not believe it because of the pain that will come from our separation. I want now and the future, and it is grief because I have no right to that. That's not why we do this, and that's not what the outcome will be for us.

Maybe at some point I'll give up my frustration with myself for not knowing if this is even ok to talk about or write about or frankly, even feel. Maybe at some point I'll be able to do this whole thing with more grace and more peace. Or maybe, this is grace and peace. Maybe feeling intensely is how I do this well. Loving with abandon, heart open, and still knowing that every time I do, it will get broken again. I'm figuring this part out still. This broken-hearted snapshot will someday merge into the rest of the pictures of my life, and I pray that, in the end, my life's art is beautiful. I pray it looks like love. I pray it looks like Jesus.

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