Maybe It’s Better to Have Known and Lost…
I wonder this.
Is it? I hope so.
I’ve agonized over how to write about this. Or whether I should at all. But how can I not speak to this, the latest and steepest turn in the relationships with Emme’s other family. Part of my need to write is to help me remember, and put into words the things that are hard to tell now, will be hard to tell later to a girl I love more than words can say. But the other side is the part of me that wonders, in the “why did this happen” sort of way, that ultimately, our stories as much as we can say without saying too much (or nothing at all which is what I’ve done so far!!!) need to be told.
Because this is open adoption.
This is open adoption, the way ours is anyway.
Two weeks ago tomorrow, we received the tragic news that Emme’s oldest sister died suddenly and tragically at the age of 17. It’s two weeks out and still fresh, this news. I hardly know how to speak to this. My thoughts are still quite jumbled, mostly because how in the world does anyone make sense of such a loss, that of a young woman, and new mother herself, really just starting life? And it was not only untimely, but unnecessary. Her death is tragic in so many ways, but more than anything, it is tragic because finally we thought that she might have been getting life together, moving forward. I had hoped anyway.
And of course, as a mother, my first concern was for my child..her reaction, her grief, her questions. How much do I tell about the tragedy? How much do we expose her to the grief of others? Her loss was future loss in so many ways since at her age, and because she hadn’t seen her sister in several months, she didn’t have any real, big girl memories of her. Her loss is mostly in the future relationship, and this breaks my heart even more. I had a dream, of one day there would be this moment… three sisters, with three moms. It was this very vague image, of a park and picnic, of conversation, of lightness…something tangible to hope for I guess, to help me keep my focus in the tougher, quieter times of our relationships. This simple image has helped me deal with the complexities of it all. But that future won’t happen because now, one will be missing from the picnic. And that makes me so very sad for my daughter, and her whole family.
Now we have to share her sister with her, the few but so precious memories we have of times together. We will keep telling her about the day they met, when Emme was just a couple hours old… how her big sister held her and cried because she loved her already. How her big sister wanted to tell her about her life so far, how she tried to make this wee little sister smile, and how we all unwrapped her together on the bed right there in the hospital, and how we all counted her fingers and toes, and checked out her ear lobes and realized they were not attached, just like big sister’s are. We will keep telling our Emme of how they said ‘hi’ that day and in so many ways, how they said ‘goodbye for now’ as well.
And a month later, we visited her First Mom and sisters in their home and we dyed eggs together while Hubs held Emme close by.
Or several months later when Big Sister introduced the near toddling Emme to GrammaB’s dogs, who were bigger than her but so huggable, and about the game of hide and seek the sisters played together under the tissue paper from gifts received and given.
And the next…just a big sister sitting with her little sister on her lap, reading the Ladybug counting book as the rest of us visited over a Christmas dinner.
And still more, Big Sister playing chase through GrammaB’s house, as we laughed at their silly girl screams.
The last time we saw her, Middle Sister read to Emme and Big Sister as their Moms looked on. Sister was quiet, sad that time…I knew life was not as it should be and wondered, but didn’t asked. I just hugged her long and hard and hoped she was okay. Maybe I should have asked, but who am I in her life? No one. Emme is someone. Not me. Little did I know the hard things that were happening just below the stoic, teenage exterior, and how the last of her two years would unfold.
It’s been a week almost to the hour since we were sitting in the gathering room at the funeral home with Emme’s immediate first family. It was surreal, being there, with them all, and so many more… birth family members we had never met… biological grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and on and on. Here it was, my prayer answered that somehow we’d have contact again, and my heart broken for the losses that we all suffered in differing degrees.
And then… we prayed together, as Hubby and I were honored to have the privilege of leading the funeral. What a honor to walk through this with these people who are our people, as not only family, but as pastors. It’s not every day that adoptive parents get such a precious moment with our child’s first family, to touch them in grief and loss, and hope and pray that somehow they will understand the grace that undersweeps it all. In that moment, as Hubby was on one side of ~K~ holding her hand, me on the other side, and Bug holding my other hand, the tangible reality of how this loss had bonded us yet again overwhelmed me, and all I could pray is “God save us all”. I want so much for this family, these people we are eternally bonded with but hardly know. And I pray that in their grief they know our love, and God’s love, and the power of hope among it all.
It was a sacred moment, that prayer, as were the moments to follow during the funeral and fellowship. We had some beautiful conversations with people who are our people because of our Bug, and we now have a wider circles to pray for, to hope for, maybe even to know. They truly come from a different world in so many ways, but as we are invited to share life even in the hard things, you can see and realize how very much we could have in common.
I sure don’t want to idealize this at all, because the full story is NOT at all idyllic. But I just want to speak to the reality that, in opening ourselves up to being known, and to knowing them, we have lost. In the short term, if we didn’t have an open adoption, we wouldn’t have known of this loss that has affected our lives so much these last two weeks, and could change our future for that matter. But the loss would still be there, even if we didn’t know about it. So here I sit, once again knowing that the heartache and hard work of trying to build these relationships have reaped the benefit of walking together through this hard thing.
And for that, today, I know…
It IS better to have known and lost…