Saturday was the darkest day of my life. She’s not ours anymore. We’re not hers. I miss her, and I’m already aching for her. It’s so quiet without her. Our home feels empty without her, and we are wrecked. The pain we felt as she walked out our door forever, I don’t even have words to describe it. The amount of suffering I felt in that moment felt like it was too big for my body, like it was trying to escape but couldn’t because that’s where it resides. My grief’s home is here in my heart, and it can’t go anywhere else.
It’s a strange kind of grief… to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive. It’s a unique situation to navigate. For me, it’s uncharted waters. To us, she’s just a memory. All we have left are the pictures snapped on our phones and the memories stored up in our hearts. I worry about her safety and her salvation because of where she is, because she’s not with me. The problem is that I can’t find comfort because I can’t be sure she’s safe and loved and cared for and being pointed to Jesus. And that problem is birthed from my false belief that even if she were with me, I could keep her safe and secure her salvation. The truth is that God sustains her life and breath, and He is the author of salvation. He is the one that both keeps our bodies safe and saves our souls. When I can see her with my eyes I know if she’s safe or not, and I can point her to Jesus, which brings me comfort. But the truth is that wherever she is, if she is safe and if she finds salvation in Jesus, it’s because the Lord has done so.
But her absence is so evident; we can’t escape it. We’re coping the best we can and deeply grieving the loss of our girl. Hearing my friends discipline their children, hearing them say, “Don’t tell mama no. You say yes ma’am.” I even miss that part. The guiding and correcting. I miss parenting her. It’s strange, I didn’t even realize I would miss that part. But I do. The first time I changed a baby’s diaper after she left, it was too quiet. Every time she would ask, “there’s poopoo in there? Or just peepee?” Diaper changing is silent of her inquiries. I miss her. There are so many “firsts” to walk through, to move past. The first time we walked into church without her. That sucked. The first Wednesday without her scheduled visit. I always hated Wednesday’s because of that, but at least she was still here with me. The first time I watch any of her favorite movies or paint my nails or eat something she loved without her or feed the horses behind our house. Everything stings, like my heart is covered in tiny paper cuts. Grief is so messy.
I wonder about her all the time. What is she doing? Is she safe? Is she crying for me or having fun? Is she missing us? Hungry? Sad? Scared? Is she ok?? As each of these questions rolls through my mind, I follow it with a prayer for my girl and a reminder for myself that God loves her too. And then I put one foot in front of the other and do the next thing. This is the only way that I can keep moving forward. It’s all I have left. All that I have to offer my girl now are bold, fervent, ceaseless prayers to the God who holds the answers to all my questions.
God has sent assurance after assurance that He is caring for her while she’s away from us. SO many people are still praying for her, praying that she’s kept safe and that somehow she returns to us. He has awoken friends in the middle of the night to pray for our girl. He is sending people to keep her covered in prayer during the night watch so that we may rest easy and sleep well, knowing she is cared for.
God was so intentional and clear with us throughout L’s entire case. When the home study on her paternal grandmother was being conducted, we prayed that all truth would be brought to light. It ended up being denied because they found out paternal grandmother lied and said dad wasn’t living with her when in fact he was. When the time came for the placement hearing we specifically prayed that it would be made clear that they didn’t really care about L and that no one would show up to the placement hearing. That’s exactly what happened. Our God hears us. He does. I’m confident that He answered our very specific prayers in just the way we asked, not only because that was His will and that’s what was best at the time, but also so that when He gave us a no at the end of her case, we would be confident that He heard our requests and, according to His perfect plan, denied them anyways. He was very intentional and very clear with us throughout L’s case. He is not being less than that now.
Following Jesus will cost each of us something different. For us, it’s this. And the magnitude of the cost feels so great I can hardly calculate it. But I know it’s worth it, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. Right now, I feel like an empty shell of a person, and I’m weary down to my very soul. I am clinging to Jesus all day long, with everything I have. (God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1). I know that when God created us, He knew we would say yes to Him when He called us to foster care. When He created our hearts, He knew they would have to endure this immense heartbreak, this deep grief. He promises to be the strength of our hearts. Jesus, please be the strength of my heart. (My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26).
To answer a question we’ve been asked often lately… yes, we’ll foster again. Because our strength? It’s not our own. We can walk upon the water wherever and whenever He calls us to because He will be with us. And if He is with us, whom shall we fear?