I Won’t Forget You 

As a former foster mother I often wonder about the children we sheltered for a season. A few I still have contact with and I’m so glad. Seven we adopted and I’m glad about that too. But the others, those are the ones I wonder about. 

How are they? Are they happy? Do they have children of their own? Do they remember us? Will we hear from them one day? I wonder. 

One of those was a young boy we loved very much. His name was Carlos. He was not Hispanic and so many people asked him why he was named Carlos that he asked us to start calling him Chuck. He said he liked that name because of Chuck Norris. 

He made us laugh with his slow drawl and his matter-of-fact attitude. He was with us from the time he was 8 until he was 10. He adored Daddy Henry. 

When DHR managed to make contact with a birth family member who wanted to take him, we tried to be glad for him, but it was a sad time for us all. 

About eight years ago, he called us. We were thrilled to hear from him after so long. We encouraged him to come see us. He declined. He said he didn’t want us to see him as he was. He said he had made some mistakes. He said he had been arrested. He said he was struggling with drugs. He told us of the harsh treatment, neglect and abuse he experienced at the hand of the family members who had taken him in. I cried. 

And then as suddenly as we had been reconnected, we were disconnected. We lost touch. Since then I occasionally check social media and google his name. Just hoping and wondering. 

This morning was one of those times and I finally found some information. It was not what I expected or hoped for. It was his obituary. He had passed away at the young age of 24. I don’t even know how. We didn’t even get to say good-bye. 

Now my heart grieves for a child I have lost twice. I have told myself I should have done more, better, tried harder. When I shared what I had discovered with my husband, he was deeply saddened. He told me he should have been more diligent in praying for him. He said he was so sad to think of all the potential he had that was never realized. 

I wanted to remember him and the best way I could do that was to write these words. We love you Chuck! You’ll always have a place in our hearts. We are thankful to have known you. Farewell sweet boy. 

Worth Remembering 

Thirty-three years ago this month my first baby was due to be born. Thirty-two years ago this past May my second baby was due to be born. I know their names and I know their ages but, I do not know them. Yet. I do not know them yet. Our getting to know each other was delayed but not destroyed. There’s a difference. A really big difference.
This morning as I considered them and how things might have been, my heart was squeezed tight. We were so young. Times were so different. The best of intentioned people said to me what had likely been said to them at similar times. It didn’t help. Please weigh your words carefully when you are speaking to a grieving person.

We had the hope of others, more children without any notion that we would never achieve pregnancy again. Infertility? What was that? Whatever it was surely wasn’t anything we needed to know about. We were young and healthy and deeply in love. Of course, we were assured, there would be more pregnancies and other children. We were naive when it came to such things.
The biting remarks started early on. How can I remember some of them when thirty years has passed? I suppose that is proof of their impact.

Only years later did I realize the full impact of the losses we had experienced and allow myself to grieve. It was then that our babies had proper names and a proper place in our heart. It was then that God began to heal my broken heart. It was then that we answered the call to foster children. They needed parents albeit sometimes very temporarily. We needed children to nurture and love until we would one day be reunited with our Jacob Jeremy and Tessie Alicia. We had experienced great loss. These children were experiencing great loss. We could love them with an understanding.

Forty-five children entered our homes and lives. Seven of these became our forever children through the miracle of adoption. Others have found permanent places in our hearts although we did not adopt them legally. I call them my spiritual children. I am a #momofmany. I am blessed beyond measure.
Yet, today I remember my first two children. Today I wanted to tell you about them so you would remember with me. Today, my heart squeezes a bit as I consider the great loss of not only two children, but, two lifetimes of memories and experiences and opportunities. They are worth remembering. They are worth celebrating. Every child is a blessing, even when we have to wait a while to hold them.

If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, allow yourself to grieve. Just remember, don’t allow grief to have you. A few short days from now is a Remembrance Day. Light a candle, say a prayer, write out your feelings, seek support, remember those worth remembering. Then, wipe your tears and live your life with great hope. Our loss is temporary. Our reunion will be sweet. Then, we will be complete.

Good Grief

Grief is guaranteed. When we are separated from those we love, we grieve. I’m no grief expert but, I have experienced grief. As a matter of fact, I am grieving right now. 

Why do we grieve? We grieve loss. All types of loss can result in grief. As with all emotions, there are many degrees of grief. There are many forms. There are many expressions of grief. 

Because we are complicated beings, grief can be very complicated. I don’t intend to imply that we can simplify the process of it nor deny the pain that accompanies it, but, I do think there are some simple steps we can take to survive it. 

First of all, if you are a Christian as I am, there is no greater comfort to be found than in our faith. It changes everything about grief as we are assured that our separation is temporary. This is one of our blessed assurances. This life is only part of our journey. But, beyond our beliefs, there are steps we can take to make sure that while we have grief, grief does not have us. 

1 – Go ahead and cry. It does relieve some of the erupting emotions of your heart. But, after you’ve cried, laugh or smile. Make sure you recall a special memory or funny moment so that emotionally you end on a positive note. Do this on purpose. This will validate your right to mourn and still feel joy. 

2 – Share your grief with others. Join a grief support group or get together with family and friends who have experienced the same or similar losses. Talk about it. Be honest. Encourage another hurting person. Don’t be a closet griever. There is great strength to be found in fellowship with like-minded folks. 

3 – Write it down. Keep a journal. For emotional pain, I prefer a real pen and paper. Something about pouring your feelings out in writing is extraordinarily therapeutic. Burn it if you feel you must when you are done. Use that pen to relieve some of the grief. You can almost feel it siphoning off the pressure of a broken heart. 

4 – Remember them with small intentional acts. My friend introduced me to Chai tea. As I’ve grieved her death, I will often make myself a cup and recall our times at the coffee shop as we pondered Scripture. Every time I make chicken and dumplings for my family, I think of my beloved Grandma making them for me. Each time I crochet a certain pattern I remember the cherished person who taught me and her smiling face encouraging me. 

5 – Give it time. We will never forget. We don’t even want to forget. But, time will lessen the intensity of the pain and make it more bearable. 

6 – Honor their memory. Donate to a charity they supported. Contribute to a missionary in their name. Mow their mom’s yard. Take their husband a casserole. Pray for their children. Tutor a child who is struggling. Help a hurting person. Whatever you do, do it with a smile and in their memory. Invest in others as a testimony of how they invested in you. 

7 – Live your life and enjoy it. Embrace each day with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. This does not dilute your loss or discount your grief. Instead it declares that each day is indeed precious and should never be taken for granted. 

8 – Ask for help if you feel stuck and unable to move on. See a counselor, confide in a pastor, find a therapist. Whatever it takes, don’t slip into a rut and settle down there. Don’t be ashamed to admit you need some guidance. This doesn’t mean you are weak of character or lacking in faith. It means you are wise enough to ask. 

My prayers are with you that are grieving. I’m praying as I write these words that those who read them will be encouraged and comforted.