I’ve written this in my head a thousand times. A thousand times, words have failed.
For over a year, I have been mom to 14. Today, my heart is still in love with 14 beautiful little girls, but only 13 of them are in my home. Only 13 are sitting at my table for breakfast. Only 13 are being reminded to brush their teeth. Only 13 are putting on pjs and being tucked snug in bed. Today, only 13 little voices are screaming “happy birthday” to me.
The story is long and intense and messy. And right now, the story is ours to keep and to process. In short, Jane’s birthmother who abandoned her with an auntie when she was just a baby, showed up wanting her child. Obviously, my heart doubted that this would be the best thing for my baby – she’s been mine for two years and was completely uncared for before that. We had everything in our favor. We had all the proof, everything on our side. And custody was granted to the birthmother. It involved horrible things like seeing my baby with her formerly soft shiny hair filthy and matted together and driving six hours home to tell her “twin” sister and the others that she would not be coming home. There were moments that I thought I wouldn’t breathe again, and there still are.
I was so proud of my baby girl. She was so brave. So big. So beautiful. She stuck a flower in her hair and entertained her baby sister while lawyers argued. She held her head high and she tried to smile. She shared her ice cream with anyone who wanted some. She told me not to cry, that it would be ok. She is only 4. I am so proud of her, my baby. So strong.
The Lord is here and He is telling me things and a part of me just doesn’t want to listen. I do not want to be this person. I do not want to be a woman who has to grieve the loss of her child. I do not want to have to walk my children through the sorrow and the trauma of losing a sister. And here I am. I do not want to get out of bed and I do not want to breathe. But I will. I do. For thirteen more.
I looked at her as I walked away and I knew the Lord was telling me that we loved her back to life. I knew He was telling me that she knows His love and that He will go with her where I can’t. We stood in the gap for Jane. We spoke up for her when she could not speak up for herself. I fought. So I trust. I cling to His promises. I believe Him.
People have been praying. So many people praying so hard. And I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. I can feel it. I don’t want to feel at peace, I want to crumple on the floor, but I feel my arms being lifted. I know that the loss of a sister will mold and shape each one of my children, but I know the way their mother reacts to it will too. So we sit on the floor and we squeeze each other’s hands and we cry and we beg God for mercy. We beg and plead for Him to keep our little sister safe, happy and strong. We praise Him because He is God, because He knit this family together, because we know and believe that He will be glorified. We ask for your continued prayers. For precious Jane. For us. For what, I am not exactly sure. We will all grieve differently and need differently and God will meet these needs according to his glorious riches. He has already started. I wrote last that my family wants to go to the hard places for Jesus. I had no idea the hard place He was going to take us to. Still, our only desire is that He be glorified.
14 pairs of sandals. 14 church dresses. 14 twin beds. Jesus, fill this emptiness.
I will choose praise. I will choose thanks. I will choose today to put one foot in front of the other with 13 in my home and 14 in my heart.