images (1)O crawled into our bed this morning, joining me, Matt (still under pillow pretending to sleep), Brother and his bucket full of trains, Okee, Eddie the Cat, and Selah (head under Matt’s pillow pretending to sleep). She cuddled for a few minutes and then said “Momma, I had a bad dream.”

“I had a dream that you and Daddy and me and my brother were walking down our road. Not our road right in front of the house, but the road we drive on to get to school, by our mailbox. My brother was walking and I was in a shopping cart. A car started coming and was going to hit us. The shopping cart was going faster and faster. Daddy took my brother and ran away. I don’t know where you were. But I was alone in the shopping cart in the road and the car was coming and we were on the bridge over the river, and the river was high, and then shopping cart fell into the river and I fell in all by myself.”

This dream breaks my heart.

If I’m honest, every day with this girl breaks my heart.

While her brother is cuddly and sweet as sugar and I want to snatch him up and keep him for ever, she, oh, she has my soul.

This girl loves to read and color and cuddle and ask questions and laugh and swim and be with people and please. Her biggest fears are to be alone and to be left behind. She’s my daughter, to be sure.

She’s sorting out this tangled mess that is foster care as best a five year old can. The grace she shows as she’s carted to and from visits, reunited with her mom only to come back home to us, is remarkable. The patience she shows as her life is examined by counselors and case workers is to be envied. She rolls with the punches far better than I do.

She’s asking more questions now. Questions that seemingly come out of nowhere, in the middle of dinner, at bath time, in the car. Questions I don’t know how to answer.

Earlier this week, she asked “Are you going to be my foster mom forever? I miss my mom sometimes, but I want to live with you guys.” I told her, as best as I could, that I’d love for her to live with us forever, and it would make me very happy, but that her mom loves her and wants them to live with her, and that is right and good. I explained as best as I could that the decision is not mine… that if her mom continues to make good choices and get healthy, that they will likely be able to move back with her.

And then

“Are you going to cry when we’re gone?”
“Yes, I sure will. In fact, I cry right now just thinking about it. I love you so much I can hardly stand to think about it.”

And then

“Can I have more lemonade.”

And with that, my daughter and I, we’re back to normal.

Just now – right this minute – she’s watching me type this blog. She wants me to color.

“Are you done working yet? You’re the best mom ever. Smile. What does that say? Does it say “Don’t cry?”

She’s putting her fingers in my ear and kissing my cheeks, kissing my fingers. Begging for my attention.

Annoying, to be sure, when all I want to do is write a blog post, but every moment with her is turning into Communion these days and I am trying my best to drink her in.

I love this girl more than life.

When she’s awake she shows incredible patience, grace, and strength.

When she’s asleep she’s dreaming of being alone and in danger, hit by a car, falling into a river.

I would give anything to keep her.

I would give anything to know, if we can’t, that she will be okay when she’s away from us.

I would do anything to know her future and be able to intervene and make it safe and for her.

What I hate most about that dream is that when she most needed me, I wasn’t there. A reality that will very well be playing out in a month. On some level, my daughter and I, we both know it.

There’s so much I can’t control.

for my sweet pea

it would be so easy to lie to you.
tell you
she’ll be coming soon
taking you home
she’ll make good choices and
everything will be okay-
no, more than okay
everything will be what you deserve.

it would be so easy to lie to you.
an old soul at five, but
instead i tell you
about change
the power of words
healing tears
the value of silence and moments alone to sort things through.

it would be so easy to lie.
say i’ll miss you, but i’ll be fine
when i don’t have to scurry at 7am to get you dressed for school
when i go to bed without a warm head to kiss goodnight
without small, always cold hands around my neck; small, always cold hands holding mine
when i wake and the yellow room is once again empty
when you’re gone
but i can’t lie, not about you whose name means telling the truth

it would be so easy to lie.
secure my mask, steel my nerves
move through this space as if i am not already mentally packing up toys
move through these days as if i am not already mourning, trying to commit each moment to memory
feeling my heart break each time you say mommy
put up a wall of strength and anger and power and keep this deep sorrow at bay
promise myself i will be okay
protect myself and push you away

but you, my dear, are worth it.
every day i’ve fallen down half dead wondering if i have the strength to do it once more
every twinge of pain from hours spent upright braiding hair
every fight over wearing boy pants and eating yucky food
every bath when you were a duck, an old man with a beard, or a smoothie-maker
every begged-for bedtime story
every mispronounced word
every smile, every song

you are worth it.
and i’d do it all again
to be your soft place to fall.
i’d do it all again
to be home for you.
i’d do it all again
to call you daughter
to have some more time with you.


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