We are going camping today.
I’m trying to pack, and all I see is the differences from last time. The time when he was here. Now, there’s only one bathing suit. One bike. One scooter. One boy.
I know that I will sit by the fire and all I will see is the empty chair. I will feel the coldness on my back in the tent from the missing little body.
I know that few will understand this. How is it possible to miss someone who is not “mine” so desperately?
Because my heart is different. I am different.
It has been fifteen days. Fifteen long, long days.
And I feel like I am doing it all wrong. Saying the wrong thing, feeling the wrong way in social situations.
I know that people don’t get this. They get adoption…they support it wholeheartedly. They get fostering. They don’t get “I love this child like he is mine but he is not mine and that’s okay, but it hurts like a fire.”
They want to engage. They want to understand. And I appreciate that. But when I say, no, I’m not adopting, no, his family is bigger than I first thought, no, he isn’t coming back here, he is going somewhere else…their faces fall like I failed.
“Oh,” they say.
“Well, you did…a good thing,” they say.
They are trying, but they don’t get the hurt. They would understand why I would miss “my” child. But not someone else’s. A child who is still mine, too. Mine-not-mine. Son-not-son.
And my heart. It is such a raw place.
But for those of you who know…it is such a hard, awkward, wonderful place, isn’t it?
Amazing love. Pain in the giving. Manifested in our homes for such a short time. Remnants left in our hearts forever.
And I am linked to these people, these otherhearts who know. Many I haven’t met in person. But they are precious to me. As I sit this weekend at a campfire and silently ache, I know they understand. They ache, too.
I think it’s time I start to tell the rest of you about some of them. Hosting changed us. It broke us down, changed who we are. Made us better. Revealed the things in our lives that don’t matter anymore. It is a lonely place at times. The stripping can be painful. The work can be hard. But it is a place so full of joy and love and things that matter.
You need to know these ones whom I love.
Their stories and experiences are different from mine, and they are just ordinary people who stepped out to be something extraordinary to one child. But they are my heroes. My friends. My companions.
Maybe they can inspire you, too.