The Ring Structure

I walk with the girl back across the highway in the dark, snow blankets everything, including the future, the loss of hope, the acquisition of children, the tiny individual snowflakes not unlike irreplaceable genetic components of life

She clears the windows of snow so the boy can drive to class in the morning…

What she doesn’t know won’t kill her, although fragments of conversations with oddly placed strangers are still defining

After all these years

The night is still cold, but cloudless this time, the moon looks on

Through the denuded branches of the tree the mourning doves have claimed

Leaving something besides snow to wipe aside, best I can, in the night

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All the cities of the world

When you were my baby you were always amazing, beautiful, lovable. So much so that I would spontaneously think you had all the cities of the world in your eyes, or put another way– I would give all the cities of the world for you.

I remember when I found out that the people who were taking you from me had a story pock-marked by leaving the laws of love behind.

I worried. I grieved. How would they be there always for you? How could they be picked over me?!? Crazy, messy, overextended, underprepared me?

I got the phrase all the cities of the world from Matthew 4–two heavyweights bargaining over the fate of the world. One aims to buy back his lost love the hard way, the other is trying to get him to take a shortcut.

He doesn’t.

There are no shortcuts to love.

Hold on my dear heart, Rapunzel. Love has always been on your side, even when all this feels so broken.

The rightful King of the world loves you so very much.

Moving Mountains

I have a hunch that when we get to Heaven we will realize that no matter how big, how wild, how impossible our prayers have been, we could have prayed for more.

Let me be clear: God does not answer prayers for evil. He does not reward our sin, cowardice, or avarice. He rewards the just, but if we pray along the lines of love, mountains do move.

Have you ever seen a mountain move? Have ever seen it lumber to the sea and toss itself in?

I have not. And as with these oh-so-solid mountains, many of the big-ticket items I have prayed for have been stolidly immobile for years.

Impossible things.

But I do worship the God of impossible things. His wry sense of humor, His unflagging love, His ridiculous, tenacious prophets, and His remarkable creation all suggest

Moving mountains ain’t no thing

For Him.

Veronica

When I lost Veronica–as I was losing Veronica, I decided I had to leave a trail of words so she could find me. This was back before the bloom of social media, so the trail of words was newspaper and legal-document based with a book of some sort when she grew up.

If anyone asked me, I would say that loving Veronica and having to figure out how to survive without her was the single most defining tragedy of my life. Defining in that it changed me. Defining in that it may have made me a better person.

The days and the hours right after I lost you were hell–actual hell. I wanted to die it hurt so much. I missed you, but worse than that I knew you missed me. I hated not being able to tell you why I was not there–that it had not at all been my choice to let you go.

This forced me to pray in a way I had never prayed before. I prayed for people to stroke your hair and people to sing you lullabies. I prayed for people to do things to love you, because I could not.

And in the process I realized that this kind of prayer was a form of metaphysical bargaining–God send someone to love Veronica led to God saying who will you love in return?

I loved youth group kids for you

I loved refugees for you

I loved drug addicts and the mentally ill for you

The snooty

The cowardly

And the messy

For you

I loved strangers for you

I loved pilgrims for you.

And the people who worked the drive through….for years they all were you–my lost baby in the world.

Because for the last 20 years all I have seen around me are would-be Veronicas.

Because that is how God sees me. He sees me through Jesus, His beloved lost Son.

So when you are afraid to call, when I have no address to send birthday gifts or plane tickets I marvel at what you don’t know about the treasure of love I have for you,

my baby girl.

Tara Stories

When my children have their birthdays everyone tells them their story–how the delivery went, first memories of the child, what we ate in celebration.

Your mom told me about your birthday. She was in the hospital for a some time before you were delivered because you were a multiple birth. She was so excited about you. You all were delivered (most likely c-section) around 33 weeks old.

You were each tiny and perfect from the beginning.

She was overjoyed by your birth. They told her she would need help since all of you would spend three weeks in the NICU before leaving with three identical apnea monitors. They said they asked your grandmother to help out but she said no.

So they call us. I was young and stupid. The other foster mothers were older women. One had fostered and adopted many children, the other had only your sister and her own grown daughters. They made up lullabies for her.

When we left the hospital together people mistook me for the mother and them for my supporting family. We explained this was not the case.

I did not get to know your mom until they told me they were taking you away. She fought for her parental rights, but the system was well rigged against her.

Sometimes she would call me. She told the most interesting stories. It is these stories I wish I had written down, recorded, preserved for you, best would have been recorded, in her own beautiful voice.

So you could hear them now. So close to her birthday.

Break Up Songs

Since I lost you I have developed a small bag of tricks to cope with grief. The best of them is prayer, others include running, swimming, mixed martial arts, and writing stuff down. I did not begin to write about grief until I lost the others as well….mostly because others had written about us.

At the time I wrote to judges, elected representatives, functionaries, dignitaries, and Hillary Clinton, and I still lost you.

The other tricks included comfort eating or not eating and pretending that all the cheesy break-up songs in the world were for you and me (because for some strange reason there are none for grieving foster moms, per se)

This is a part one-of-two letter, dearest Little One. Don’t make my mistake, start writing now. It will help a little now and a great deal later.

You have a story, beautiful Rapunzel.

Tell it.

Measuring Time in a Teacup

Nondescript kitchen window transforms itself into stained glass as I overthink which teacup, settle on porcelain white so different from the non-Euclidean trees green, alive, and fierce in this hot summer wind

I drop

two bags into the single cup, pour water from the kettle, assess how full the tea tin used to be

Last time we were alive

Together.