I had been asleep for an hour or so, fatigued and tired, leaving to-do lists to wait and climbing into bed quickly asleep. I close my eyes and I see the vivid image so real. I've left her somewhere.
In a car seat, abandoned in a parking lot, lost in the bed...and no matter how many endless hallways I run down, I just can't find her. I wake up, gasp and cry all at once. Tear off the sheets frantically looking for her, flipping on lights and running into the next room where Chris sits on his lap top. This time, I'm crying and looking up the staircase fumbling over my words "What, where, don't don't we have something to take care of? Am I missing something? Isn't there something else?" He's slow and soft to speak, we've been here many times before. "Meg, you're having a nightmare. Everything is okay." More frantic rambling and more assurance until finally I come to and realize I've done it again, and yet he just sits there looking at me with tenderness and a bit of sadness. I calm down and walk back into the bedroom reasoning with myself, consoling myself all is well and it was just a dream, she's not forgotten. A quick glance at the monitor to see her little body and find my way back into bed.
She's not forgotten. She will not be forgotten.
A few months earlier Chris was away on business and my phone rang. In the shuffle of soccer practice and making dinner on the other end of the phone call was the directive that Child Protective Services needed us to come to the next city over and pick up a baby. Literally hitting the breaks and halting my thoughts, I hit pause and rattled off my usual questions. Gender, name, race, health...anything? She responds it's a girl and when I ask again for her name she fumbles and pauses then admits that she just can't remember. The reminder of the endless, harsh and dark reality those who suffer in silence breathe in and out daily. How can she possibly keep track of names when the overload of abused and neglected files pour over her desk like a river that never ceases? An hour later I pull into a gas station parking lot off the highway and somehow we, the caseworker and I know each other's cars. We get out, introductions are made, paper work signed and we meet for the first time...this little life and me, us. Head back to our town and the pause button lifts and life resumes.
Dear Little One, our story begins and we are pressing in, clawing for justice and mercy until some day you leave. But not today. Today you are ours.
After a week or so the adrenaline wears off and full swing of pace and life consume yet here you are, my darling. Waves and waves come of pieces of the story, your story of where you came from, why you came to us and the unknown that lies ahead. With every meeting my subconscious wants to pull you in even deeper to our world. The day dreams and heart wanderings of a mama, of Halloween costume ideas, what to get you for Christmas, first day of Kindergarten pictures, who you will become some day. The caseworker's binder closes and the reality of your future is speculated and so quickly my mind shifts to desperate priorities of safety and basic care. Forget costume pictures and vacations, I just want to know you're going to live and that no one is ever going to hurt you. The caseworker continues and with every word he speaks week after week, fear rushes and seeps into my heart. Reminders that we have no say and no control, we are merely a pending limbo to keep you until you leave, and that day could come tomorrow or in a year. The meetings end and pause resumes until the next wave. Go make dinner, check homework, and cup little faces coming home from school and take a step closer into desperate grace because it's the only thing that sustains.
Sitting in church and hearing the chorus, believing truth with every part of my being but this lump in my throat is growing by the minute, I feel like it's always there...park play dates, soccer side lines, stoplights. How do you sing and raise your hands saying let my life be undone for your glory, when the unraveling and undoing starts with that phone call to come to that gas station? Praise lifted up is the only refuge but the enticing lure of numbness fights for my heart all the while. His strength sustains and His mercy triumphs but this thing, this cost of bringing in babies and letting them go doesn't get any easier.
Prayers groaned and wept in the secret place move mountains but we've been here before on the brink and the finality of letting go. When I still ended up standing over my daddy's coffin while the preacher praised his new young wife for her bravery and the grief came so strong I could hardly breathe. The cost of grief and letting go, the price on a heart that dreams and hopes for the future regardless of reality only to be hushed by release. Release that forces you to lay down what was to come and the present reminder of the permanent. Where's the hope in this darkness? Where's the freedom and joy we sing about when fear slowly wraps itself around my neck and into my sleep? The anchor of truth holds steady because my weakness outweighs my capacity. But the fight remains and some days I feel yet again face down in the arena. Is it worth the cost and worth the heartache over and over again?
Darling, the unknown and the decisions being made for your life that check a box on paper and comply with policy yet it would never be a consideration for my own children. I keep coming back to this question I hear daily and ask myself constantly, how we just can't do it because we'd get attached and I just couldn't let them go. I don't know much, I'm far from experienced or acquired expertise in bringing in babies coming from a life of horror, little bodies full of substances only to let them go. I want a short answer, one tied up in a pretty bow that sits well in conversation, in my world. That answer hasn't come and I'm beginning to think it doesn't exist.
In the moonlight hours I stare at your face and wonder if you will ever know who we are?
Will you remember how we couldn't wait to get you home and into our pajamas, wrapped in our blankets that smell like us? How you're life is worth more than a gas station exchange?
The cost is worth it and your value is immeasurable. And if your attachment depends on the very thing that hurts us so deeply, then it's been worth it.
If you live because everyone at that hospital and social service team bravely followed protocol and saw the red flags and made sure you lived, then it's been worth it.
If your tender, brave daddy, the one who came home that winter day and told me my daddy has died, if strong, safe love like that filled and changed places in your foundation that will forever impact who you are, then it's been worth it.
Dear Little One Leaving Some Day, we don't know what's to come but we know we have today. We know we have today to do everything we can to pour the mold for the little girl, the woman you will be some day. We will hold you, rock you, sing to you. We will sweet talk you silly until you smile and cackle. Take you to the pediatrician, the park, to church. We will tell you the story of the day you became part of us and come what may, you will always have place here in our home and our hearts. In the immeasurable uncertainties and heartache, you, our darling are worth it.
So here we sit 2 years into this journey and the answer is simple and only by His grace and sovereignty walked out a day at a time. Why sign on the dotted line for the hardest and saddest road I've ever been on, one that stretches beyond comforts and limits and takes us as a family on a journey of unknowns into a dark reality of a broken system and desperation of the innocent?
It's worth it. Every time. It has to be.
Little One, you're worth it all and worth it all a hundred times over. I think about it all the time, every day, what it will look like to let you go some day. Today, I praise your Maker it is not that day. Today you're ours and you're safe and loved.
Today you smell like us, like a warm bath and honey lotion.
Today your sounds echo off the walls in the house and your scent is the sweetest thing we know.
Today and every day moving forward you're a daughter of the Most High King, an heir to the throne.
Today and every day you are worth it. We've counted the cost and you're worth it every time.
And the day you leave this house, you'll still be worth it.
And when the day comes and you're gone and we can't smell your sweet scent and hear your beautiful sounds, we will know the pain and the familiar process of release...
You our darling, will still be worth it.