when it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~ persian proverb

they call it the spaceship song, and i don’t know why, but i sing it for aiden and joey anyway. “silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…” and then joey is crying from up in his top bunk. i move his blankets around and tuck him tight and ask him what’s wrong.

“it’s just so beautiful,” he says.

i am taking this four-year-old back to his mother’s on friday. him and his little brother, jin jin. we will pack up joey’s spiderman toys and jin’s stuffies. when he came, he had no special stuffy. now his bed is full of them. we’ll pack their soft blankets from auntie karen and their nicest clothes, leaving some here of course for when they visit. we’ll pack their puma shoes which they only ever wear in the city. out here it’s crocks and boots and mismatched socks and underwear on the head some days. in the city, it’s different.

and i wonder if it was the city that got to adam lanza.

and i wonder if adam cried when he heard silent night sung, for the very first time.

i’m grieving a lot these days. i’m grieving for those 20 children, even as i mix up four bowls of porridge in the mornings and sort out clothes from the heaping pile of laundry and read storybooks to toddlers and wipe away tears and blow noses. i’m grieving as i go for runs at night the winter air freezing and quiet, and silent night all around me. and i’m grieving even as look inside myself and find things like anger and resentment and other emotions that every day, pull triggers. hurting my loved ones.

and joey and jin have become my loved ones, and now i have to give them back.

this foster love isn’t the kind of love that is attached by an umbilical cord. no, it’s actually something much deeper, and less emotional. one that surprises you with its commitment. i imagine it’s like an arranged marriage; the love grows more mechanically, by choice. it’s not easy. in fact, it pulls out your hair and your mind and your heart and leaves you bawling over a slideshow you’ve made of the past 11 months.

because you didn’t realize how much you loved them until now.

friday morning i’ll be driving them to the city. i’ll be dropping them off at their old apartment, and hugging their mom who is a friend of mine, and then i’ll walk to our red van and drive away. because that’s what i have to do.

and i’ll go get myself a latte and do some shopping and then cry the whole two-hour drive home, wondering if we’ve done the right thing. begging God not to let those children go through any more pain. begging him to help joey remember the words to silent  night, and to give them eyes to always see the stars.

even in the city.

(to watch the following slideshow of our year with these boys, please scroll down and pause the music player in the right-hand column)

every wednesday and thursday, we gather together to celebrate redemption. here are the details:  

1. link up a post (old or new) that you feel is ‘broken’ or ‘imperfect’ or somehow redemptive 

2. put the ‘imperfect prose’ button at the bottom of your post, so others can find their way back here (see button code in right-hand column of my blog) 

3. read other’s prose, and encourage them! 

 so won’t you join us, as we “walk each other home”? (ram dass)


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**PLEASE NOTE: we’ll be taking a two-week break from imperfect prose… see you in the New Year!**