Today is her first birthday and my heart can barely handle it. Never in my life have I loved something so deeply. Never in my life have I experienced a pain so deep, a pain that resonates no matter how many times I “work through it”. The pang in my chest when I think about her, the lump in my throat that forms when I say her name, the ache in my stomach when I remember all the beautiful moments I got to spend with her, all of them, they just hurt so bad.
It’s been 3 months and 10 days since she left our home and sometimes I feel as if the pain is just as deep as it was the day we said goodbye. We were warned about this when we decided to foster, the distress that comes with saying goodbye, yet we chose to do it anyway. We thought we were prepared. We thought we would be able to handle it. We knew it would not be comfortable and yes, there would be times when we would be consumed by grief, but never did I expect to still be grieving 3 months later. It’s hard.
She was mine for a season and to be honest, she will always be mine. She was the little girl who grabbed my heart and showed me what it was like to really, truly, deeply love. She was the one who restored my hope in the future. She gave me a purpose to keep going, to keep fighting for permanent children, even when I had nothing left in me. It was and always has been her.
It’s hard for a lot of people to understand why the second child in our care was the one that captivated my heart like she did and not the first. It’s not because I don’t love our other child any less, or because I love her any more. No, I love them each in their own unique way. Our first child (E) came to us with a mother who loved him deeply and would give up her own life to be able to provide for him. She was determined, motivated, and adamant about doing what she needed to in order to get her sweet boy back. She was always his mom. I never was. He never referred to me as “Mama”. He never specifically sought me out for love or affection. I was never the one he wanted. Because of these things my heart was much more guarded with him. I knew he would not be staying. I knew he had another woman who carried him in her womb who so desperately loved him and was going to get him back. I knew I was only the temporary caretaker and that alone changes one’s perspective. Of course I love him and of course I will fight for him to get what he needs in this world and work to make sure he’s safe when he goes back home, but to him I am just the cheerleader, not the captain and I’m okay with that.
Her on the other hand, she didn’t have what he had. She was alone in this world and didn’t know anyone as her mother. She attached instantly, without any hesitation. She sought after us when she needed something. She lit up when we would walk into a room. She was ours and we were hers. We were mom and dad. My heart wasn’t battling with the thought of her having this other mother fighting for her. It wasn’t conflicted on whether I should break down my walls and let myself be open to whatever it was that may come. She needed a family in a time of desperation and we were the ones chosen for her. All the pain I was afraid of experiencing didn’t matter. All the grief I knew I would have to work through when she left, it was meaningless. Every fear I had was no longer, because she was so easily mine.
Maybe that’s why this day is so hard for me, because part of my heart is afar on a day so special. I know she is being completely loved on and celebrated beyond measure but that still doesn’t take away the dull ache that my heart feels so deeply. Sometimes I wonder just how long it will take before I will experience that love again. Will it be days, months, years? Oh how I wish I knew, but I don’t. So until then I will continue to pray for healing of my heart. I will continue to pray for our future and the daughter that will forever come into our family one day, and I will forever praise the Lord for letting me experience a love such as this.