It was Monday, the second Monday I meant to write my gratitude journal for the rest of my crazy last year. The second Monday I had intended to finish up the story of it all because it needs to be finished, it needs to be told, and it needs to be seen in the light of gratitude. Gratitude, for what we learned through a year of loving two babies as part of our family, through loving their mother, through the joy and heartbreak. Gratitude for all the change and the dizzying pace and the breaking and the growth that came from it.
And I’ve started several times. I have. But I can’t quite do it yet.
When I was maybe 13 or 14 I had this dream, this vivid dream that has stayed with me for all these years. In my dream, I was an actor in a film. We were at the studio, getting ready to film the next scene. I can still see it, all the people milling about and the sets and my young self all ready to go. But the scene coming up was a terrible one, tragic and awful. I’d read the script and I knew what was coming, and I knew I’d be spending the whole day reliving that scene over and over, shooting it in all its terrible detail from every angle, until it was played out. And I just couldn’t do it. I left the green room in costume, got on the elevator to go down to the set, and just didn’t get back off…I rode the elevator up and down, up and down, waiting for the courage to go out and face that scene.
It’s a little like that, now.
I have all these memories and all these things that happened packed in boxes in my mind. Because it all happened so fast and there was just so much to get through, I had to deal with just the urgent matters of that particular day (of which, believe me, there were plenty). The joyful stuff and the grievous stuff alike, they all got packed into the same little brown boxes. And I have been riding the elevator up and down with those boxes, unpacking a little at a time and trying to make sense of it before finding a place to put it all away. Trying to find a way to make peace with a situation that does not have a happy, Hollywood ending, not on this side of heaven or at this point in the story anyway. And I feel like until I can get this done, until I can see it all from a place of being thankful, grateful, even for the really difficult parts, I’m stuck on the elevator.
The writer in me needs to see it written down, however briefly. The mother in me doesn’t want to write it, doesn’t want to see it in black and white.
Maybe part of it is that I don’t want to say it, say how much it hurts. Not just the loss of the boys but the whole thing, all the change and all the ups and downs, the people we met and the things we learned. For not being able to help their mother, for the helplessness of it all. Maybe it’s partly the fear that people won’t understand, won’t understand why we did what we did, won’t understand how we could suffer so and yet cherish the whole huge, messy lot of it so very much.
How I would do it again. Yeah, I really would.
And maybe I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t want you to look at this and say, “I will never take in a foster child because I don’t want to suffer what they’ve suffered.” Because this, this being stuck on the elevator is only a small part of it. I can’t help but feel we gained more than we lost, though there is no way to count the cost or balance the budget when it comes to love. Gain does not necessarily mean comfort, not in God’s economy. And our situation was unusual, but the overall picture is so terribly not unusual. The orphans and widows of James 1:27 are here among us, although often in America we call them “wards of the state” and “single moms”. When your eyes are open, you see them every day.
To live with your eyes open? It’s worth a little time on the elevator.