All day long their circles of exploring, adventuring, and learning loop out and back to me. And in the hundreds (or possibly thousands) of cycles, I meet their needs for comfort, for nourishment, for regulation, for connection, for cuddles. Some big, long loops. Some small, short, frequent, tiring loops. And I love it, more or less. I have the honour of being their center as I ever-so-slowly try to work myself out of a job – or at least try to share the job with Jesus.
One successfully performs at his first recital and the relief transforms his body as he puts down his guitar and bounds over to spill his pride onto me and absorb mine too, partly because he succeeded but also because he was brave. With courage he chose to act on the belief that I was speaking truth when I said he could actually really do this, though his face, jaw, eyes, and shoulders clearly revealed that he did not feel any part of this truth. With this success, maybe bravery of believing will be a touch easier next time around.
Another is faced with newness and her lip quivers as she burrows her body into mine. She doesn’t want to cry, but this might just be too much. With deep breaths, my heartrate slows hers and we turn around to face this new person together, one of us confident that new means great things ahead and the other desperately wanting to bravely trust that this could be so.
Yet a third calls out to me every few minutes. Sometimes he needs a bottle or a diaper, but most often he needs a cuddle of reassurance. I marvel at his ability to bravely trust again after the greatest betrayal. Trust that his needs will be met by someone new, trust that he is safe, trust that his world will not turn upside down again tomorrow. He snuggles into my chest, I breathe him in and I wonder where my bravery is hiding.
It has been nights and nights of bad dreams. Random dreams on random themes, all with the residual feelings of dread and of being overwhelmed. I wake up knowing that I can’t do this. That it’s too much and I’m not going to make it. I rewind the video of my mind to the night before and it’s not hard to see the source. I close children’s doors with a sigh of being emptied as the day ends, sink into the couch for the slow-sipping, end-of-day filling back up with my husband. And then when the lights are out my mind starts to spin with what is ahead.
This is the babe we are going to have to let go.
The words are not truth.
But they feel true and they permeate my heart in the darkness. This is the babe we are going to have to let go. His dad seems kind, caring, and genuine and though it is early days, the end seems painstakingly inevitable. In the best possible way and in the hardest.
Of course I have been through this wrestle before. I know that it is precisely because I love and care for this child as my own, that I pray for the best for him. And I know that the best for him is to be with the healthy, loving, stable version of his parent(s). And so I know that there are no prayers I can pray that will make this easier for me, because I long ago gave up easy and the right to have it be about me. If this is the road we walk with Chase, then all I can do is look at the models of my children’s stories above. I can be brave – which, if I recall from their stories, does not mean trying and doing and striving and conjuring up feelings of courage. Brave means choosing to trust a truth I do not yet feel to be true.
Brave means choosing to trust a truth I do not yet feel to be true. I can’t do bravery more or less or better or worse, as long as I make each choice, big or small, on God’s truth over mine. And so I am freed from striving, because this is about His truth, His strength in me, His grace through me, His glory not mine. He must become greater; I must become less. Is there greater bravery than that?
But oh man do I dread what lies ahead. The grief so deep, the pain so paralyzing. I have not forgotten that feeling and my dreams reflect how little I want to walk that road again. Will I be able to be brave? Will I be able to cling to the truth of God’s faithfulness and goodness in my life and in Chase’s? Will I choose to cling to it when it does not feel true? Dammit. I hate the grief that is integral to this road of my son’s healing and mine.