I’m sitting next to a family.
Two parents with three most-likely-bio sons. I watch the oldest roll his eyes as the youngest runs around the cafe, repeating with gusto,
“I spy with my little eye…”
The middle boy colors quietly by himself.
I don’t know the names of the older boys.
The youngest is definitely named Liam.
Father and mother halfheartedly chase the towheaded toddler in turns, calling his name.
He expertly ignores, then evades them.
It is a blissful scene of family togetherness, childhood glee and parental exasperation.
Sometimes I watch other people with their children, heart aching.
I am not the woman who gave my children life.
Every so often, I wonder whether things would be different if I’d held them in my arms from birth.
a few days ago
I saw a lady watching as my daughter and I walked through the store
arms wrapped around each others’ shoulders
being our goofy selves
The woman’s eyes sparkled with tears.
I wondered about her story.
And it hit me.
We all watch each other.
Grieving our personal losses.
Assuming others have a better, happier life.
She has no idea of the depths of hell from which my girl and I have fought our way back to be mother and daughter.
She can’t imagine the years of despairing whether we’d ever have a relationship.
I reconsider some of my wishing.
Maybe Liam’s family lets him have run of the place because he’s recently had his third round of chemo and they don’t know if it will work. Maybe they seem happy together because it might be the last time.
None of us has any idea what the others’ lives are like, and yet, we wish.
A few weeks ago, I talked with a friend I’ve always seen as the epitome of happy and positive. We lost touch after college for over fifteen years. Three minutes into the phone call, our friendship was all caught up. She’s the same sunny girl.
Five minutes in, we’d spilled our guts.
Our adoption journey. Their many miscarriages.
Everyone has a difficult patch in life to overcome.
We all have our own battles, and none of us really knows what others endure.
I’m a born advocate; when I read Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 31:8 and and Isaiah 58:6-11, I feel they were written to me personally.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
8 Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.
Speak up for the rights of all those who are poor.
I can fight for what others (e.g., my kids) need all day long. But if I’m honest, miscarriages would utterly destroy me. God knew what I could handle.
God knew beforehand this was going to be my life, so I’m fully prepped to fight, love and pray my way through the hard times.
Maybe I just need to focus a little more on being thankful I’m equipped for this life, instead of wishing for someone else’s battle.
Isaiah 58:6-11, NIRV
Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain.
Share your food with hungry people.
Provide homeless people with a place to stay.
Give naked people clothes to wear.
Provide for the needs of your own family.
Then the light of my blessing will shine on you like the rising sun.
I will heal you quickly.
I will march out ahead of you.
And my glory will follow behind you and guard you.
That’s because I always do what is right.
You will call out to me for help.
And I will answer you.
You will cry out.
And I will say, ‘Here I am.’
Get rid of the chains you use to hold others down.
Stop pointing your finger at others as if they had done something wrong.
Stop saying harmful things about them.
Work hard to feed hungry people.
Satisfy the needs of those who are crushed.
Then my blessing will light up your darkness.
And the night of your suffering will become as bright as the noonday sun.
I will always guide you.
I will satisfy your needs in a land baked by the sun.
I will make you stronger.
You will be like a garden that has plenty of water.
You will be like a spring whose water never runs dry.
Every once in a while, I have a vivid flashback to the screaming, angry, hurt little beings we brought into our house three years ago.
We recently switched to a play therapist for our boy, and the doc asked me for a brief rundown of his history. After reading my typed four-paged, single-spaced summary, he asked how recently we’d brought our son home. “This is all incredibly fresh; as if it happened last month.”
Yes…it sounds fresh because these memories are tattooed in my mind forever. And let me tell you, they’re not pretty…like the grey-green Navy tats from years past: unmistakable, grisly, and very permanent.
This week, though, I have had a glimpse of “real” family life, and it’s been amazing. We took the kids to the beach, and we’ve done things I couldn’t even imagine three years ago, or even last year.
1. Biked over a mile on a bike path next to the road. (Previously, I’d have been terrified that she would accidentally swerve out into traffic…and that he might do it purposely.)
2. Relaxed in beach chairs while they played in sand and surf. (On other beach trips, we were right beside them, holding the straps of their life jackets if they ventured near the water.)
3. Allowed them to order their own food. (They now have manners that allow them to interact with the general public.)
4. Watched as they played happily and appropriately with other children on the beach. (Until recently, they both shied away from other children, unless another child made fun of the boy…in which case, he decked the kid.)
I don’t know whether we have entered a new, more peaceful era in the adoption saga, or whether this is a quick, God-granted reprieve before the school year (and all the bad behavior therewith attached) begins. It doesn’t really matter, though.
I’m enjoying every minute of getting a few new, beautiful, bright-colored memory tattoos.