Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It was Christmas, You know?

I am in that middle world where half my life is unbloggable, out of respect for the people it involves, and the people who read. I didn't mean to disappear for almost a month, but didn't have the words to say the highly edited version of what I would like to talk about.  This quandary of a family blog, combined with an adoption blog, combined with a parenting blog, combined with a special needs blog, combined with facebook make blogging a more complicated issue. 

 So instead, here is our month in pictures.  
We posed for family pictures in a 5 minute photo shoot that actually turned out great.  Six kids ALL looking at the camera and none miserable.  Hooray for small miracles.  This was our Christmas Card picture this year.

We cuddled and played and otherwise had many fun times. What we didn't have is any contact, visits, cards, letters or gifts from any members of our kids families of birth.  Another post on that coming.

 We shopped and wrapped and ended up with some very, very happy kids on Christmas Morning.

We worked hard on making some Christmas memories.

And in the end I think I succeeded.

It has been a hard month and I am exhausted in many ways, and so grateful in many ways.  We had a precious Christmas with my father and family.  A Christmas we were told two years ago would never happen.  And yet, the beast that is Cancer hovers over every memory.  Chemo, surgery, hope, fear, death, pain are the giant pink elephants in the corner of every photograph.   My boys are on the brink of adulthood, but still children too, facing adult choices, while we try to preserve the last moments of their childhood, and our sanity.

This journey that is life is not easy.  I have many more grey hairs than I did even three months ago.  And I am Blessed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


'Tis the season.  The Christmas Tree with her ornament on it.  The weather that reminds me that we were nearing the end of our time with her.  I look back on that time with my "other daughter", and the reality of her loss with an understanding today I did not have at the time.  I know that if we had been able to keep her, we would never have the daughters we have today.  I don't know how to fully come to terms with that reality, but I do know that is what it is. 

There is no choice to make.  It's not a matter of who is more loved or who is more valuable, it simply is the reality of loss.  I loved her fully, and I love my daughters fully today.  Without the first, we would have never considered being willing to parent more children again. Because of her, we knew we could and because of her presence, and then her absence, we were willing.

But it certainly isn't as simple as the two replaced the one and life went on.  It's isn't an equation of sum totals of love.  It's apples and oranges or broccoli and spinach or Holland and France.  Equal yet fundamentally different.  Similar yet opposite.  It is truly the unexplainable.

I couldn't share last year's picture with you then, but I sure can now.  And I can share my daughters and how they grow.  Life is truly amazing.

In case you can't tell from the pictures, they are rambunctious, busy, totally adored handfuls of perfection.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Single Moment

It was a hot, dusty afternoon.  I had loaded up my six kids into the van with a firm reprimand to the teenagers that I "EXPECTED" them to have fun.  My husband was off working for the day, and our community was celebrating in fine, small town summer fashion. 

The carnival was here  and so was the rodeo. There was a park full of musicians and children's performers.  We parked.  I loaded the babies into the little red wagon I tend to prefer over my cumbersome double stroller and we seven, together, walked into the crowd of people. 

"Look!" The urgent tone in my son's voice made me pause and follow the line of his finger. 

"That's HER?  Right?  Right?!?"  

And it was.  Now four and a half years old and not the toddler he remembered but the still same little girl that was their sister for a precious year.  We all stopped and stared. 

We didn't approach her.  I would never approach her.  But we stared. 

"Look how long her hair is!"
"Wow, she is big!"
"I miss her mommy"
"She is so, so precious"

And then  "Why is she by herself mom?"

The longer we watched, the more it became apparent that she was alone.  And scared.  And lost.   Her look changed from playful, to fearful, to terrified.  Seconds, and then minutes passed.  And tears began to fill her eyes as she scanned the large crowd of people looking for a familiar face. 

As did I. 

Where was She that took her from me?  Where was the one responsible for her?  Why is MY BABY alone in this crowd of people?  Why was she scared and crying and feeling alone? 

Oh God what are you doing to me.

I called her name. The name etched on my heart for eternity.  I am not even sure I meant to, but there was something in me that could not let her stand right there in front of me, mere yards away, and suffer.

For the first time in three years I called out her name in a tone and voice that once meant Mama to her.  And she turned instantly and ran the thirty feet across a dusty parking lot and without once looking at my face she wrapped herself around my legs. 

"I was lost" she sobbed, "I couldn't find anyone". 

She pulled back from my legs and looked at me.  Calmer now, but utterly confused she realized she didn't recognize me, yet had ran to me because she thought she had. 

She knew my voice, she didn't know my face.

On my knees,  I wrapped my arms around and her and promised her it would be OK.  Encircled by my standing sons who just simply stared in awe at what was happening,  I told her my name was Jen.  That once, a long long time ago I was a special friend and that I would help her find that who she was searching for. 

"I was really scared" she said, tears still streaming down her face. 

I have begged God.  Begged.  Just one more hug.  Please God I need one more chance to tell her I love her.  I need to feel her weight in my arms just one more time.  I need that chance to whisper to her that I will never, ever forget.  Just.One.More.Moment. Please, God. Please.

Now?  Here?  Oh God I cannot do this.  I cannot believe this is happening.  Please let me remember this.  Let me savor every single second.  This is going to end.  Oh God this is going to end too soon.

With instructions to my sons to keep looking for the missing grownup, I took my finger and tucked her hair behind her ear, and took my sleeve and wiped the dusty tears from her face.

"When you were a little, tiny baby and were feeling sad or scared I would sing you this song and it would make you smile"

And there, on that dusty, packed dirt parking lot, surrounded by 1000s of people bustling around to enjoy the celebrations of the day oblivious to a mother's broken heart,  the cry of that heart was heard as she sang a lullaby to big girl sitting on her lap. 

Tanner came back, having spotted who we were all looking for, oblivious to the parking lot drama, sitting a fair distance away visiting with a friend. 

"I love you so much.  I never want you to forget that you are a loved and beautiful girl"

I stood her up.  I placed her hand in Tanner's and promised her that he was a big, safe boy who loved her very much too and he would take where she needed to go.

She walked off once again with a smile on her face, holding the hand of my son as he pointed her in the right direction and she scrambled off from a past she doesn't remember to happily reunite with her present.

And I cried.  A blessing I had begged for.  A curse that ripped off the scab of healing.
And it took me six months to be able to write about.