I haven't written for awhile because honestly it's hard to. Never in my life have I felt things so deeply and it feels imperative to simply put one foot in the front of the other. To pause and feel but then back to the shuffling of the feet.
It's been nine weeks since we met Baby A. Nine weeks since I started walking around with my heart outside of my body. Nine weeks since I meditated when I woke up. Nine weeks since I became a mama.
As I've said before a lot of our days are filled with normal mother things - watching him smile, doing four loads of laundry, Googling "Is this normal?", walking around the lake with him tethered to my chest. We were moving forward. We were continually getting good news. We were watching him thrive and witnessing our hearts growing six times the size.
We had a court hearing coming up but nothing had really occurred so we knew it would be more of the same. Then I got a phone call and that changed.
Though I'm not divulging the details here or in person, I talked to a social worker who said: If court goes this certain way, he could leave that evening.
I pretended to understand and whispered "Oh my God" after I thought I'd hung up. (I hadn't but she pretended not to hear.)
This phone call also happened to coincide with his first day, two hours really, of daycare so I was already feeling "normal" mama feelings and then this.
My husband was on a work call so I went and sat in the yoga room. I tried to feel my butt on the ground, to witness the tears streaming down my face, to keep breathing in and out. I knew this could happen, it's part of foster care, the nature of what we are doing. But just out of the blue? That I wasn't prepared for. (And now I'm not sure you can really prepare yourself for any of this.)
I calmed down as much as I could manage. I talked to Matt who wrapped me up in his arms and said "We will be okay" but his voice was shaky. I talked to my mom and Jacki. I called our FFA social worker. I made an altar. I prayed. I read about loss. I talked to foster moms. I ate the popcorn my friends brought me.
I recalled what one of my friends who is a Buddhist meditation teacher would often say:
Right now it's like this.
This is the circumstance. These are the feelings. THIS right here is love. This is our reality and it only hurts more if we struggle and flail against it.
The day before court I picked up little man from daycare, a big smile plastered on his face. I wrapped him in the papoose and walked around Echo Park Lake with Rosy. I felt his little body against my heart and I thought, "If this is the last day I spend with you, I am so grateful for every single second."
And this past Thursday I sat on a hardbacked blue chair for eight hours, reading my Pema Chodron book and holding a crystal so tight in my palm I thought I might bleed. I reminded myself that I was here now, in this space, and this fear was normal. That no matter what happened in that court room, however painful, I would be okay. Baby A would be okay, even if my idea how his life could be was so different from reality. That Matt would be okay.
I took deep breath after deep breath and shuffled my feet to the cafeteria for lunch. Matt walked in right before the hearing began (you never know what time they will be so you have to be there all day) and we held hands as we sat in the back.
And for today, Baby A is home safe with us.
My husband and I sat on the couch that evening watching him sleep. He looked at me and said "I would do this a million times over to feel what I feel in my heart. We are alive."
It's so true. I've spent so many years trying to numb feelings and doubt and worries and a God-shaped hole but I am now truly the opposite of numb. So present, so alive, so on the line. Not at all sitting on the sidelines of my life but in the very middle of the arena.
My friends, everything is in flux, everything will change. But I'll tell you what, I look at this little boy with the biggest, wonder-filled eyes every single day. That walk around the park is how I want to live out all of my days. As though it's our last and so fucking grateful when it isn't.
I believe with my whole heart in what we are doing and I know that sense of purpose will buoy us forward. Hand in hand. Because no one can do this alone.
“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”
- Pema Chodron