"Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving… if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking." - Henri NouwenI had a taste of this love that suffers, when my Grandpa went to Heaven back in 1986. I remember crying, crying, and crying. He was my ketchup on ham sandwiches, watch him make a bullet, tell me a story, get you with a fly swatter grandpa. I wish we could have known each other longer. I loved him as much as my nearly 9 year old heart could and his loss was felt in salty tears and dreams where he would still sit and talk with me. He was the first person whose leaving broke my little spirit, where I saw a picture of loving and suffering mingled. The risk of loving is always worth taking.
|This is one of my favorite pieces of art Little J made at pre-school this past year. Our Little J has her own story of risk and love with as many ups and downs as a roller coaster! Thank you, Jesus, that we took the risks!!!|
What about the J that didn't stay? That itty-bitty brown baby whom I loved through middle of the night feedings and who delighted me with his first smiles and chubby hands reaching for me in the morning - oh, how I loved him! His loss, the loss of a child who felt like my own but never was, was like arrows in my heart and even now - nearly 9 months since he went back to his Other Mother - he shows up in my dreams, in the photos on the wall, and in unsolicited memories. I love and miss him, and I always will. If I could rewind the clock and get that phone call again - on April 18, 2013 - from Department of Child Services, I would say, "Yes, yes, yes!" all over again. I would not miss a single moment of those 6 months with him. The risk of loving is always worth taking.
Sometimes I get ahead of myself. (For those who know me, this is not a shocking statement.) I have been mothering, and falling in love with, Baby J (II) and Sister K for about 10 weeks, and as such, I start to imagine a life where they never leave. These are dangerous imaginings, for a "for-now-foster mama," but it is hard to keep them at bay. J&K may stay for the long term, they may go in the short term, and reality is, that regardless of which - loving them will eventually mean leaving them - whether it is after a lifetime or within the month or year. The other reminder, is that along the journey of every type of parenting, there are the little leavings that hurt and they are not to be avoided. Starting school, not asking for help, hurting each other, leaving for college, getting married are all leavings and there are a million in-between. Another day of life, another day of love, another day of leavings - big and small, another day of risk....may it ever be so, because, if we want to know great love then we have to take great risks and if there is one thing I want, in this whole world, it is to love well and to be loved well. Bring on the love - bring on the risk!