In the triangle corner behind my bed, a stack of cardboard boxes is growing, a little more added each day. The snow outside descends and rises again; the mud and dripping branches remain. Inside we are cozy, with our twinkle lights draping the mantel, and the miracle of six stockings hanging once again above the fire, where last year hung four.
I am buying lots of things.
I just purged my house, nesting, frenetically sorting through every closet, every drawer, to remove all that we don’t need. I toted stacks to thrift stores, discarded what was junk.
And bought more. Because we don’t have enough flannel shirts and wool socks, and the list says ten.
I need to cut snowflakes for my windows, but I have made the hot chocolate a couple of times already, and unwrapped the precious Nativity from Jerusalem, and finished a Christmas program dress for my big girl and a line of T-shirt dresses for my little girls. I love making things times six. The hot chocolate tastes like redemption.
Two weeks from today is a termination hearing.* For eleven months, two small people who do not share our name have shared our home. We have committed to let them share it forever, if we get that chance; and the time ticks down. Who would have thought that in joy could be so much pain, and in pain could be joy?
I buy hoodies and long jeans and boys’ work books, size 6, my silent gift collection: Hannah packing for her son. I just want him to be warm.
The rain drips from the eaves, the wrong weather for December third. The mobile therapist comes, and the lady who reads adoption books, and the behavior specialist, and the mail lady with more boxes. My puppy gets muddy in the yard, and I bathe her. The children can’t play out until it freezes. They strew dress-up clothes and Matchbox cars around the living room, bang on the piano, do belly races down the stairs, pull leaves off the fern, I think. Though I have never caught them at it; maybe it’s the puppy.
Love is pain.
The next-to-last Christmas gifts have been ordered, and the stack behind my bed grows quietly. Because I cannot wrap and display the presents yet (cf. the state of the fern), they curl in the darkness of the boxes, germinating. Half, at least, are for my son oh son my son.
I believe in a God who brings light out of darkness, spring after winter, growth by way of pain. I believe that the things we bury rise healed, multicolored, radiant. But I do not know how I can give him up, even for a time. We have accepted the opening, and the time ticks down.
He will build a weather-proof shelter, wear boots, cover his ears with a warm cap. I will write him reams of letters, make him laugh. They will feed him well, and he will learn to cook tasty things over the fire with the other boys. He is very excited. And torn.
Daily life is consuming, difficult. The hopes and fears of all the years are realized together, forged between the meltdowns. We are vigilant, and fractious, and steady, and tired. Who would have thought that help for our son and permanency with children birthed to others would coincide? And neither hinged on the other, and neither certain; dreams curled in darkness.
Life does not care what my heart is doing; life goes on. But there are more holes than substance, by now, in this soul of mine, and soon the rain will fall through.
But now it has turned to snow.
* Update 12/4/2018: The morning after this post, we received word from our caseworker that the termination hearing has been postponed for several months. This means bio family has earned another chance to win the children back, and are unexpectedly doing a striking job of it. The journey continues.
* Update 12/19/2018: Thanks to everyone for your kind words. I’m sorry I can’t reply individually. I appreciate your care.