Last year my leetle brather and seester-in-law decided to adopt children. They decided to go through the foster care system instead of private adoption or international adoption.  They went through the classes, gathered references, had home studies, it was a whole big deal. Stressful. They found two files, a brother and a sister. And they knew if they got approved they’d adopt these kids. It took months, but they were finally approved! Yay! When would they get the foster children? Don’t know, it’ll take a while before files blah blah blah waiting game. But, fifteen minutes after the ink dried on their stamp of approval, my bro and sis, they get a call. The short version is this:

“Hey, there’s a baby. Can you hold it for us while we figure out what to do with it?”

And my bro and sis were all, “Sure?”

And that’s how they were given a 2-day-old infant to foster. And that’s how That Baby came into our lives and basically made us better people. I cannot, for legal reasons, tell you her name, but I have many nicknames for her and Snuggle Nugget is my favorite, but it’s too long so I call her Snugs. I wish I could post a picture of her because she’s beautiful and has dimples! Such kissable dimples! She has a headful of dark hair, and you guys, she smiles 95% of the time. She’s one of those Magic Babies that makes you think hey, babies are easy!

This all happened in September of last year, by the way. So this month she turned 5 months old. Do you know what a 5-month-old is like? She laughs now! She’s grabby! That little, chubby-cheeked Snugs is the best thing on the planet. She must be, I wouldn’t change dirty diapers for just anyone, not even my friends’ kids, and I love my friends’ kids. And I wouldn’t spend my lunch hour for just any baby, cramming food in my face as quickly as possible just so I can Hold! That! Baby! and go back to work and show everyone who will stand still long enough the 200+ pictures I took of her during that hour.

A lot happened in 5 months. In fact, a month after they got Snugs, they were able to get the two kids they filed for. I cannot tell you their names yet, because this fostering-to-adopt situation takes a lot longer than they’ll lead you to believe. But they are a sweet sister and brother. The sis just turned 4 this week and the little bro will turn 3 next month. I call her Sweets and he is Smalls. I loved them immediately. I didn’t think I would. I thought it would be hard to be around them, or feel weird sharing bites of food or kissing them. It wasn’t. At all.

I thought at first, since they were old enough to kind of understand what’s going on, that maybe they’d be shy or reserved, but no. They are so sweet and they love Aunt Jaimie and Uncle Ruckus (Mr. Fleegan is Uncle Ruckus because they kept calling him Uncle Jaimie.), and every time I go to their house, as soon as I open the door, I hear shrieks of “JAIMIE!” like I’m a damn rockstar, and they run up and give me all the hugs. I’m like, the Freddie Mercury of aunts. It probably helps that they know I’m going to share my lunch with them, beit sushi or tater tots, and that my fridge is filled with some kind of sugar water Capri-Sun.
Whatever. They love me.

These kids aren’t always easy. Sometimes they seem more like creatures than children. Sometimes they are sick. Sometimes it is inconvenient to have three kids. I honestly don’t know how my brother and sister do it all day every day. (Hee. All day. Every day.)

I would do anything on this earth for Snugs, Sweets, and Smalls.

Two weeks ago I got a phone call from leetle brahther. Even before I answered the phone I knew something was gonna suck.

I’ll make this short. DHR had called out of the blue and for whatever reason only God Almighty knows, they were giving Snugs back to her birth mother, and they had to turn her over in two days.

And guys?
I knew it was going to happen eventually, even though the birth mom is a garbage person filled with snakes (presumably), but it didn’t seem like it would happen so soon. And trust me, I would love to tell you all the ways that this lady is a complete shit, but for brevity and my blood pressure’s sake I’ll refrain.

I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve cried, how many times I’ve yelled at God, how many times I’ve snapped at people at work, how many times I’ve avoided my family, how many times I’ve stared off at nothing for uncountable minutes. I’ve felt powerless, and I now know what bereft means, not the definition, but the empty. As sad as I feel, I have NO IDEA how my brother and sister are getting through this. I don’t.
If she came to me and said, “Jaimie, I just dug a hole in the yard and I live there now.”
I’d be all, “Yes. I get it. You’re doing everything right.”
And if he came to me and said, “Will you watch the kids? I’m going to go pick a fight at the bar.”
I’d be all, “Great. No problem. Don’t die.”

Because this is the saddest I’ve ever been in my life, and if I’m THIS sad about it how much more sad are they? It’s incomprehensible. Like math or Shakira.

Grief does strange things to you.

I was told by a wise person that over the next few weeks I’d experience all of the 5 stages of grief, and that they’d come in different ways and in no particular order, and they’d probably wash, rinse, repeat on me as well. She’s been right so far. Mostly I’ve been angry, sad, and numb. After a couple of days I started writing down what I felt. Not like a paragraph or anything. I keep loads of index cards at my art table, and one day I was so angry that I kept saying over and over to myself, “I hate the earth.” That’s how mad I was (and still am sometimes), so mad that I hate the whole earth. I want to swallow the earth. It makes no sense. But I wrote it down on an index card.

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The next time I felt something different I wrote that down too. Every other day or so I’d find myself writing down a few crazy sentences. I keep thinking, if Jesus is supposed to be bigger than any problem I have, how come I can’t feel Him? How is my sadness so big? How can it eclipse God? What the hell, Jesus, are you even paying attention? (Admittedly, I’m not a great Christian.)

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A couple days later these sentences became lists. I would list 5 feelings/items in an homage to the 5 stages of grief (which I can never remember, by the way), three or four would be serious and the fifth one would be something silly or non-serious.

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A sense of humor can be a great coping mechanism, and I started feeling comfortable with sharing some of my grief lists with a few pals. One of my pals text me back saying that my list made her cry and laugh and that was when I started to feel the slightest bit better.
(Note: making my friend cry is not what made me feel better. I’m not a monster.)

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I don’t understand this loss at all. I don’t understand how I can feel SO MUCH for a person I knew for such a short period of time. (so much of that time was just her sleeping or eating.)  And I’m confused that even though I know she’s still alive, still here in the same county where I live, I still feel such a profound loss that often when I think of her or see one of her 90,000 pictures on my phone I still gasp for breath and tears fall out of my eyes.

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So for now all I can do is cry and feel and make lists, and hopefully, eventually? I’ll feel better.

 

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