what It feels like one year later: reflections on saying goodbye to our boys.

It hits me at least once a day-It has become a familiar feeling, a consistent companion. It is a rush of emotions followed by tears-It is a feeling of having my hands tied behind my back and my chest suffocated by a cement slab. It comes consistently, but it comes quickly and unexpectedly. 

It. 

If you’re a mom, or have been a mom, you know the sound of your baby’s cry (and I use baby loosely-by baby, I mean your child no matter what age). There’s the angry, selfish wail of want, the wimper and whine of discomfort, and exhausted, almost drunk howl of a tired body, heart, soul…then there’s It. It is the cry of pure, innocent sadness. That heart-wrenching little weep of injustice, a scraped knee, a hurting heart.

It rings forever in my ears, like an alarm clock to my grief. I hear It when I’m driving, Floyd’s little heartbreak cry. There were many tears in our house-because that’s just what happens when there are toddlers and teens and in-betweens around. The memory that sticks in my mind of Floyd’s hallow, heart-ache weep is a time where his friend (a toddler a little younger than him) bit a hole into his new special toy. The face, the melt, the gasp, something that seems so little has burned a permanent hole in my heart and mind. It was the first time I saw such a little guy feel such big things-he didn’t retaliate, he didn’t hit, he just looked in pure terror and came to me with tears I could have drowned in.

I still drowned in. 

And I held him, and I rocked him and kissed his dirt-stained cheeks. I let him feel and I felt with him. 

But now, I’m haunted with the sound and the stomach-drop feeling of him crying-THAT cry. And I’m helpless. I can’t do anything, say anything, kiss anywhere, hug-nothing. Who is telling him he’s going to be ok? Who is telling him it’s ok to hurt and fear and feel? Who is meeting him on his knees and teaching him how to get back up? Who is with him? Just, with him. 

October 17th will be the one year anniversary of the boys’ reunification. Since then, we’ve gotten married, we’ve moved (and brought all the boys’ stuff and all of our hope with us). I’ve laid in bed next to my new husband and have wept, I’ve driven and wept, I’ve sat here, in front of this computer, and wept. We’ve experienced anger, injustice, and fought until I realized that the ropes tied around my wrists are made of something stronger than polyester and twine. It’s a bondage over a territory that can’t be broken today. We said goodbye to the boys a year ago, and haven’t seen them for close to four months. No goodbye, no communication, no closure or sense of hope–just a gaping wound left behind and fears that are impossible to sooth. 

So maybe now, I am the one with the falling tears, and heartbreaking, wounded soldier cry (my God knows each of my cries). And our family can’t release hope because we know the world our boys live in is one without safety on all levels. 

This is the ache of the foster world-this is the ache of the system. This is also the call (just because it seems impossibly hard does not mean we aren’t called deeper into it). 

And although my sorrow lasts through the nights, still, one year later, many nights-each morning, I open the blinds of our room to rays of hope. And I rest in the rays, and I let myself soak in them, and I let my thoughts flow for the day from those intrusive rays-

the hope doesn’t determine or negate the grief’s existence, but it does define purpose and reason (when I fear there is none) to get up and walk another day.