I stood outside the county courthouse in the parking lot surround by trees of yellow, red, and orange. The fall wind blew a chilly breeze that lingered in the air. It was Friday just after 5 pm and everyone was leaving work to rush home for the weekend.
"It will be okay," I said to one of my foster children. Really saying that for myself because I needed to believe that. The four foster children I had were moving to a new home.
I hugged myself, brushing my hands up and down my arms seeking more solace than warmth.
B stood there stone faced and lost in her other world where she was safe. R sobbed and sobbed wiping snot from his nose across his sleeve. M tried to mother the two younger ones and assure them that this next house would be better than mine. N looked me straight in the eyes, casting her hurt to the depth of my heart while single tears rolled out of the corners of her eyes.
It was a moment I wanted to never end and a moment I wanted to end so quickly.
I hugged them all goodbye and told them I loved them always. I watched them get into other vehicles and drive away. N the only one to look back with pure agony in her face.
I fell into the driver's seat of my car and wept.
Until I was able to bottle up all the emotions and bury them deep in my heart.
I returned home and was embraced by my three girls who had tons of questions where I had no answers. Of course I responded perfectly to them and they were pleased.
My heart still aches.
Not a single day goes by that I do not think of these four children. There are songs, moments, or sayings that keep them alive. Their picture hangs on our fridge.
I can remember every detail about the night I picked up these kids and met them for the first time. And I remember the moment I realized I loved each of them for who they were.
It is easy to love others in general terms and there is a place for that kind of love, but I think what we all desire is to be loved specifically. I do not just want to be another acknowledgement in someones life. I want to be something more, different, special because of me.
The pain I felt when the foster children moved created a barrier around my heart. If I didn't let anyone else get close, I would not feel the pain. It was an easy maneuver.
But, I cannot desire to be loved specifically without giving that back in return.
So this carefree, loving girl created a heart barrier that resides inside a woman.
There are several people who have managed to poke holes in that barrier and I have learned to love them specifically, but I still try to protect myself.
Truthfully, I have no problem being expressively passionate about things that frustrate me or I see as injustices, but I struggle being expressively passionate about the joys.
It is so much easier to live life in our safe places. Isn't it?
Where we think we control the outcome. Where things are consistent, predictable.Where we can love others because there are so few we love. Where we can get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV and go to bed. Where tomorrow is a repeat of today. Where we are neat and tidy and everything really does fit into a place we have created.
I have lived it too. Honestly, there are days I am tempted to retreat back there.
Yet, deep down I believe life is meant to be lived, tasted, savored, devoured, explored, and messily wonderful.
I contradict myself.
I don't want to hurt. But I think that really living life is intertwined with loving specifically.
So, I confess that albeit scary, I push myself daily to try to love this way and to break my heart barrier away piece-by-piece.