Monday, August 4, 2014

Anatomy of Grief

I have had some really great moments this summer. But the fact of the matter is that every single one of those moments has been overshadowed by dark, deep grief. 

I haven't written much in the last two months. I've wanted to. Even composed a few drafts that never got posted. I constantly composed excerpts in my head while I sat in the darkness. But most of them never saw the light of day. Most of them I can't even remember now. What I can remember is that they were a desperate attempt to do what I love, to write, without having to actually deal with the emotions that were sitting in my heart, just waiting to leap out of me at the first opportunity they saw. You see, writing is how I process. As verbal as I am, as much as I love to talk and sing, as much as I love to share... Writing is where I can actually figure out what it is that I'm feeling. Until the words come out onto paper (or a screen), they're just a jumbled up mess in my head. 

So today, my friends, I will deal with what has been waiting to spill out of me since June 18... The day everything changed...

A sweet friend at school asked me a question this morning... 

"Do you feel like your attachment to Squeaker is different than what you had with Eyelashes?"

Pretty answer: no. Of course not. I give everything I can to all of my placements and I love both of these boys just the same. 

That pretty answer is a lie.

So now I give you the truth of it... The real answer, the ugly answer: yes. It is incredibly hard for me to feel the same way about this little one as I did about Eyelashes. Is it fair to Squeaker? No. Do I feel guilty every single day? Yes. Incredibly. 

The weeks after Eyelashes left were bad. I never knew that life could get that dark, that pain could slice so deeply. The night he left I searched manically around my house for something that smelled like him. I needed him. I needed to hold him one last time, to feel his skin against mine, to breathe in his scent as he snuggled up next to me. I physically needed him, but he was gone. After searching to no avail, for everything had either been packed up and sent with him or had been just recently washed, I resorted to crying in the fetal position on the floor of his bedroom while clutching the blanket he had last slept with and cursing the freshness of the smell of detergent.

The truth of the matter is that I felt robbed. I wasn't sure of what, but I just knew that God had short changed me somehow. Is this really it? Is this all I get?? Am I to spend my life pouring everything I am into child after child just to have them ripped out of my arms in the end? Even now, just saying the words causes my heart to constrict. For I am still nursing this wound... I haven't figured out the answer yet. 

This unresolved issue became clear to me this morning at work.

Our new principal asked us to write down words that we thought of when we thought about the following things: Family, students, teachers, leaders.

I wasn't expecting what happened next... 

Revolving door

These were the only two words I could possibly muster to write under "family."

Really? Is that where I am? Is that how I view my life, my ministry? A revolving door? No permanency, no forever, just season after season of pouring into a child that is not mine, that will never be mine?

The pain of losing them is almost unbearable. 

The pain of my unfulfilled dreams is just as unbearable. 

I never questioned my desire to have a family... A forever family. It was set into the bedrock of my heart so solidly that I never doubted that it would happen. But it hasn't. And truthfully, I don't know that it will. The jagged edge of that longing, that unfulfilled desire, has me staring down a path that I know I shouldn't follow. A path filled with bitterness and broken dreams. Of wondering what it is that I've done wrong. Of jealousy as I watch my friends raise their little ducklings without worry of when the court will pluck them out of their nest. Of longing to have someone to walk down this road with me, to understand this calling. 

I never imagined the fall out that would take place after his departure. I never realized how deep of a cut the grief would be, of the open wound that it would leave exposed. Others had left before him. I thought I was prepared. 

I was not prepared. 

Every moment of every day, I still love him. I still long for him. I mourn the loss of his smiles greeting me in the morning, of his hugs and kisses. I grieve over the loss of a child that was never meant to be mine, but whom I loved all the same. There is no bandaid that covers this. Every smile is clouded by sadness. Every mention of his name is like a cut to my heart. 

I typically come to a tidy little conclusion when I write. I identify my source of angst, and begin to see what God is teaching me... How He is changing me to be more like Him.

Right now, I have no answers. 

All I have now are the very untidy questions that continue to plague me... Is this it? Is my heart destined to be forever loving and then forced to let them go? 

I. Don't. Know. But I wish I did. 


  1. Erin, I don't have the perfect words of comfort for you, I cannot imagine what you are going through. But, I do know that you are loved and admired and I hurt for you. I am sending you the biggest Hug! I pray that you are able to find peace. All my love, René

  2. I am crying with you Erin, we all go through this with our foster children, I feel like it's the part we don't talk about or don't want to share with others. Thanks for putting my thoughts, my heart, my hurt on paper. Praying God will touch you in a special way. Irene