Maybe our mutual love of the same little girl that neither of us got to raise was enough to glue us together but either way, all those years ago when I promised that baby girl that I was committed to her and to her family for life, I really meant it. I just hadn't ever imagined when I made that promise that it would be six years of loving them without her present and no hope of anything different, but it didn't change my promise.
The week before Christmas, there was a hurriedly arranged court session, quickly signed documents and a phone call I never, ever expected to receive. "Hey, I am getting custody back of J, do you want to come for a visit?"
Why yes. YES I FREAKING DO. I may have danced.
There had been increased visitation with her Mom over the last few months, and we had been privileged with spending some time with her throughout the summer and fall. Strange moments I was incredibly shocked to have been blessed with. The sight of my 2 daughters, whom I never even imagined being mine but became mine, and the little girl I had begged God to let me keep, but He had taken from me, playing together. TOGETHER. 3 little girls that I loved with all my heart playing together. It seemed a moment I couldn't quite believe was real.
There were tears after these brief visits. Caden, my sweet little boy, who was only 5 when she left continued to grieve her loss and then grieved her present. Her life is harder than you would want for any child, but particularly a child you love, and his young brain tried to process the ever apparent hardships she faces. He sobbed those sorts of deep hiccup sobs that even when the sound stops the tears continue for hours after. He missed his baby sister, and this so apparently needy, hurting little girl was not who she could have, or even should have been, and he saw that. She was now a friend, and not a sister, and to him that will always be one of the greatest losses of his life.
|Jazzy, Caden and Jen 2006
We were meeting at the local pool and it was to be her birthday party her Mom had put together for her little girl, now almost 7. Her and I share a birthday. The chance to celebrate with her again filled a desperate cry of my heart.
We were the only people that showed up.
And we spent 2 hours eating cake, playing, swimming together. The baby got passed back and forth from his mama to me, his favorite aunty. I tossed one girl, then another, then another up into the air. We laughed and played. and the entire time my heart was screaming "THIS was the way it was SUPPOSED to be". We were supposed to have been an extended family all loving on the same kids. We were supposed to have been ok and happy and all willing to share and love and support the same little girl. My heart processed equal parts grief at the 6 wasted years and amazement that this moment had even come at all.
When it was time to go, she turned to her mom and said "PLEASE can I go to their house to play?" and her mom said "Sure".
A single word that gave my son and I the best possible Christmas present we could have ever received. Time with HER in our home. Jazzy was coming to our home, that had been her home, for the first time since she was 18 months old. And the next day, and the day after that. And 2 days more after that.
|Jazzy and Caden 2012. The BEST day of his life he said.
I will talk about those days another time, but for now, we are thankful. She has gone back to where she was before, with a chance of a permanent custody change later this year. We don't have visits right now or even updates.
But this Christmas I took a picture of the 7 children I have loved with all my heart in front of my Christmas tree. 6 are mine, 1 is a child that was mine but still owns her chunk of my Mama\s Heart and that will be her spot forever. It was our Christmas Miracle.