We all have ideas about how things in life should go.
We make plans, schedule appointments, we set goals, and every single person has expectations for others and life and how things should work, and nobody can really deny that if they’re honest.
And having an idea about how something should go is nice and all that, but you can have amazing ideas that collide with reality and fall flat or catapult into disaster.
It wasn’t my idea to have a family the way we have. When we got married that hot and sunny August Saturday, infertility and vials of blood work and health problems and miscarriage and unanswered questions and fostering the babies of women who had more than their fair share of hard knocks in life didn’t exist on our list of ideas about starting a family and what that would look like.
I might have run the other direction if I would have known.
And I would have missed what it felt like to have my brown-eyed Cub smile and look up at me after a long day sick with a bad cold and say, “I love you, Mama.”
I would have missed losing all that sleep on those eternal nights when he was cutting multiple teeth and I would have missed how it felt to have his chubby little fist curl tight around my finger.
I would have missed the tears of toddler tantrums and the days that felt like failures I wanted blotted out, and I would have missed the joy of seeing his eyes sparkle and hearing the childish delight in his laughter.
I would have missed the fingerprints on the windowpanes of my front door and I would have missed the scribbles on the hallway wall and the poop smears in pants and
I would have missed the child wonder.
And then, our journey took a turn we never imagined.
We said yes to a little girl that was coming.
A little girl with a drug addiction already raging in her unborn body.
That was never our idea.
I remember laying in bed one night, staring at the ceiling and wondering what she would be like and how it would feel to be a mama to a girl. I felt this heavy pause in my heart and I told my husband that I felt a little scared.
“I think this is going to be really hard.” I whispered into the dark.
He was silent, like he could feel it too. “Yes…maybe,” He said slowly, “But I think this what we are supposed to do.”
And I know that if we would have known, I would have run in the other direction.
And I would have missed the strength of a peace inside myself that didn’t come from within myself, when her body shaking all over would shudder with deep breaths and relax against me – me just rocking and singing and praying.
I would have missed the joy of of her first smile, at two weeks old, an image framed forever in my heart.
I would have missed the daily hours commuting and feeling starved for a real home-cooked meal and I would have missed how her eyes would follow me as I moved around her and how she would listen when I talked.
I would have missed her screams and cries and high demands and the exhaustion of it all, but I would have missed how she would stop crying and listen, every single time I sang to her about the angels watching over her. No other song could soothe her like that one, and I would have missed the comfort that washed over us both, singing it over and over again, for a whole hour.
I would have missed what felt like endless evenings of restless cries for hours straight, and I would have missed how the Cub got to lay on the floor next to her and tell her his stories. I would have missed the delight of watching them interact – her listening with big, admiring eyes, his wild gestures and childish stories holding her momentarily spellbound.
I would have missed the witness of her healing, how the tormented question in her eyes vanished into the sparkle of a shine that would have made any mama-heart indescribably glad.
I would have missed the anguish of saying good-bye to our life together, but I would have missed the gift of ever having a life together.
May 5 is the anniversary of our chapter closing, one year ago.
My heart is constantly pondering what we have missed and remembering all that we had, as the forget-me-nots bloom early and the late-spring breezes whisper warm.
And it’s been the hardest year of my heart, of my life.
I hold her special blanket just a little bit longer and I let my heart feel and then I stand.
It’s time to say good-bye.
It was never my idea to let my child go so soon. It wasn’t my idea to say good-bye.
But if I stay here I know, I will miss life and joy and wonder and miracles.
So I whisper that final good-bye in my heart, to the sweetest pea that ever was in our pod, and I know I just let the most beautiful butterfly leave her cocoon –
Carried by the wind, the very breath of God.