Tonight, I felt completely lost.
It’s not the first time. It will likely not be the last.
Z leaving has opened up so much in my life. That sounds so pretty right?
What I mean by that is that Z leaving ripped open a huge, gaping hole in my heart and in my life.
We knew it was likely our last day with him.
I don’t remember our morning. But I knew I didn’t want to spend the day at the house. So we packed our kids up nice and comfy, with coats, scarves, hats and gloves, and took them on a walk to Clear Creek Trail.
It was a short walk. Never long enough. I look back at those pictures, and I want to hang on. Just walk forever, I want to tell myself. Don’t let the moment pass.
But the moment passed.
They always do.
We took the kids to McDee’s. Because he LOVED McDonald’s. Strange last meal with us, I’ll admit. After we got our food and sat down, we got a call from our case worker. Everyone in court had decided that 4 pm would be a good time for us to drop off Z at mom’s.
Of course they all decided. They did not ask us. They didn’t realize he hadn’t napped yet. It was just one more affirmation that our opinion didn’t matter. The truth is — it didn’t matter. Our preference was of no consequence.
I tried to lay Z down once we got home. He didn’t want to go to his crib. He wanted me. Only me.
He clung on to me and fell asleep. And I clung on to him, my chest heaving up and down in silent sobs.
I kissed his head a million times. I breathed deep of his smell. Why couldn’t I save his smell? I rubbed his hair until all his curls were straight.
Ryan came in once, sat down, and cried. We both did it as silently as we could so as not to wake him. But eventually, it was time.
He woke, and we had 15 minutes to pack his things in our car and say good-bye. I looked at books with him and took videos of him saying goodbye to our kids. Ryan walked around the house collecting odds and ends that belonged to him. And then it was time.
God — why was it time?
I carried Z to the car. I snapped him in. He didn’t know it was good-bye. How could he? He loves car rides, so he was happy to be out of the house. I held in my tears as best as I could. I kissed all over that sweet baby face. I told him so many times I loved him. I took a last picture of him. And then I closed the door.
I held it together as Ryan pulled out of the garage, then out of our driveway. But the moment the car left my sight, I lost it. My legs threatened to buckle. I held onto Maddy as the sobs I had tried to hold in let loose. Immediately, I felt like I was going to throw up. I ran to the bathroom, and clung to the toilet as my stomach tried to revolt.
My girls didn’t know what to do with me.
Maddy told Leyla to go bring me water. They each brought me water, Leyla’s in a sippy cup. And Maddy brought me a towel. They kept asking me to drink — maybe I would feel better. Sweet girls.
Ryan came home a shell. When he could talk, he told me that when he was leaving, Z opened up his arms and ran after him yelling, “Daddy!”
Then Ryan wept.
7 weeks ago, we said good-bye. We took the son we watched learn how to hold his head up, learn to sit, crawl, eat solids, take the first steps and say the first words . . . we took him to his mom. And we don’t know if we will ever see him again.
For 7 weeks, I have lived with waning hope. With growing despair. With little resolution. Any inkling of what I thought our relationship would be at this point seems like a distant dream. Ryan and I both feel strongly mom just wants us out of his life for good. I believe it will take a miracle for her to be open to us having even a very small part of this child’s life.
7 weeks ago, a hole gaped in my life. I’ve been doing the best I know how to navigate this new life. To pursue my writing internship that started just days after Z left. To continue my business. Relearn my relationship with my girls as the dynamics in our home have changed. To figure out what my days ought to look like without a toddler in my home. To try to create some order from the chaos that engulfed our home when Z unexpectedly moved in.
I’ve been figuring out how to breathe again. To worship. To pray. To read my Bible. To believe in a God who says “no,” “not yet,” “I’ve got this even if you don’t,” and worse, “just wait.”
I’m rediscovering parts of myself I didn’t know I needed. Time alone. A LOT of it. Wine and chocolate — in moderation.
I’ve learned my emotions have a limit. There are things I would normally care so much about — making others happy, feeling others’ pain. And the truth of it is that I can’t go there any more for others. My heart is doing all it can to keep beating, keep going, keep showing up for this thing called life, that there is not enough energy left to carry others’ burdens.
And then, the one big burden that is constantly on my heart. Can we do this again?
Can I love another kid as much as I loved Z? Can I do all the appointments, invite social workers into our home, start a relationship with bio parents, and subject all my family to the risk of pain again — all for the sake of the life of a child.
Anytime someone asks me what we will do — I tell them it depends on what I’m listening to. If I listen to my heart, it tells me no. It says our family has endured too much grief, that we deserve some peace and happiness, and that my heart is not capable of loving any child the way they deserve after knowing personally how hard it is to say good-bye.
But if I were to answer from conviction — my answer would be yes. Because who am I to tell God how much grief He’s allowed to give me? Our home is open, our family is loving, and we are trained. And the need is massive. I know that if we ever told our director we were open to a child, we would get a call likely within 24 hours.
God and I had a really big heart-to-heart about where to go from here. There is a story. There is a decision. But I’m not ready to share just yet.
For now, I’m making it day to day.
The hard moments come. The ones that engulf me in depth of despair, grief and loss. The moments I pray will just pass.
And you know what?
They always do.