June 25, 2015
She hears the front door squeak open, and she tenses, involuntarily bracing herself for . . . she is not quite sure what. Whenever he comes home, everything changes.
When she is alone, she can almost relax, almost imagine a life full of peace and serenity and calm. In the quiet moments, she can remember a time when there was silly laughter and deep joy and infinite hope for the future. But those days are behind them now, and her home is, instead, filled with frequent strife and familiar bickering. There is a tension that lives here now, a tension that she can almost feel.
She never knows which one will walk through the front door at the end of the day: Happy Him or Angry Him. The him who smiles and asks about her day, or the him who snarls and immediately starts belittling and criticizing her flaws. The him who wants to chat and engage, or the him who is sullen, angry and withdrawn.
The minute he walks in, the part of her brain that senses danger is activated, and every muscle, every sense is instantly on high-alert. Are those light-hearted footsteps she hears striding down the hall, meaning that he is ready to interact with her? Or can she hear a hostile purpose in those shoes, meaning that someone somewhere in his day may have upset him somehow, and now he is ready to take out his frustration on her? Or perhaps, could it be that she hears a slight shuffle, the defeated trudge that will send him and his dark mood straight to his room, barely even noticing her?
He rounds the corner to where she is standing, and one look at the expression on his face tells her everything she needs to know. It’s Happy Him. At least for the moment. She exhales the breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding, and allows herself a smile in his direction. He grins and greets her with, “Hey, Mom! I’m starving! What can I eat?” Her son is home.
June 13, 2015
The day I had been dreading is finally here. The day that no mother should ever have to experience. They day I say goodbye to this precious child I hold in my arms. He is the temporary treasure that the Lord had entrusted to me to love and protect and nurture a year and half ago. I knew he would not be with me forever. I knew that my role, this chapter in his life, would some day be over. But knowing it does not make it any easier. The heart does not always listen to the facts; it opens wide and gives itself away, knowing the whole time that doing so will cause it to some day break. But it courageously extends its arms anyway, undeterred by the inevitable.
The sign on the door says, “Welcome Home!” which makes a little piece inside of me cringe. “Home.” They can call it a home. They can pretend it’s a home. But can it really be a home if no family lives there? Of course the staff are all professionals, skilled and thoroughly equipped to meet his every need. Nurses, a nutritionist, a physical therapist and a case manager. Someone to take him to all of his doctors’ appointments and someone else to give him a bath and wash his beautiful curly hair. I am so thankful that there are places like this for children like him. Places where he will be able to grow and thrive and reach his fullest potential.
But still, it grieves me that he will now have a rotating cast of professionals caring for him. That he will no longer have a mother. Has that sweet face received its last kiss? Will anyone ever hold him in their arms and rock him to sleep? Will he ever know what the words “I love you” mean?
Is this what the story is all about? Where it all ends? What about the happy ending? Stories are supposed to leaving you feeling good when they end. They are supposed to have meaning. They are supposed to include love and family and home. What kind of story is this one, anyway?