The last of the tribe left yesterday. We have had our immediate family (12 of us – including the grandbabies ages 4, 3, 2 and 6 months) in full force or overlapping since the middle of December. There was also an uptick of numbers on New Year’s Day when 23 more extended family members joined us for lasagna and fun in the snow. (By some LDS folks’ standards, the numbers probably seem skimpy – no more than an average Family Night with the cousins.)
It’s a heady experience to see the lyrics of “Sunrise, Sunset” play out before my eyes. As I watch my grown kids handle their toddlers I feel a rush of “As you are, I once was and as I am, you will become” (to reframe Lorenzo Snow’s couplet). I definitely experience tsunamis of joy and ineffable affection.
I was leaving town on December 8th for the winter so I went visiting teaching earlier than usual. Afterwards, I decided to stop in unannounced at another ward sister’s home to say farewell. I hadn’t seen Cora Lester* for a while and the last time I’d heard, she was in remission from last year’s terrifying battle with thyroid cancer.
She looked weary and was recovering from pneumonia. She shared the devastating news that one of her daughters living in another state had just been diagnosed with lung cancer, and that another of her out-of-state daughters had brain cancer.
Cora, whose heart is oceanic in its compassion and generosity, seemed broken and bowed under the weight of these challenges. She felt helpless to give anything “more” than empathy, a shoulder to cry on and her ears to hear her family’s sorrows and stories. Continue reading Present→
One thing Sandra and I have in common is that both of our lives have been touched by foster care and adoption. I think it’s hard to be involved with adoption and the foster program without it changing how you feel about how families are created and what it means to be a family. Here are some of our thoughts in response to the news today:
I got frustrated by counsel given to the girls at camp this year: well-intended guidance for the future, that made them passive in their own futures (waiting for someone to take them to the temple and other things that have now exited my memory). I was already limping; my knee was sprained, but I went to camp anyway (I said I would so did) on crutches. We camp in the mountains nestled among granite boulders and elevation change, getting around was not easy. I couldn’t lead my girls or join them for all their activities. Unable to hike down rock cliff over -looking the lake for to the stargaze, I sat outside the lodge to see what I could from where I was. And sobbed.
How could the heavens be so big and at the same time someone could make it seem like they were any smaller, our possibilities less? God and Heaven are greater than anyone can see. How do I reconcile my faith and the words from leaders that I struggle with? I didn’t get answer, but a confirmation, that yes, they were much bigger, wrapping beyond the mountain skyline and deeper than surface of stars I saw. I wiped my tears on my sweater sleeve and then greeted my fourth level girls as they came up the hillside. Together we headed back to the cabins, they walked easily along as I hobbled. Continue reading Practicing Religion→
I dreamed I was in an open meadow with a blanket of wild flowers. The light from the distant sunset made them glow like colored sea anemones. I was walking through them carefully, not wanting to break a single stem, when a pain hit my heart. It was so strong I fell to my knees and started wailing. I cried out her name over and over. I could not stop. The pain came in waves and my jaw ached from letting out the cries that only a bereaved Mom could understand. I woke up terrified and bawling, aching to hold my daughter.
There was only one slight problem with this dream…I never had the daughter I was crying for. She never showed up. After a short two years of an infertility scare, I was blessed to have three sons and a daughter. Then, we decided to try again. I knew there was another girl waiting to be with us. I felt her everywhere. I saw a vision of her in the temple. I knew the color of her hair and those soulful eyes. I would glance at my children around the table and feel her absence. I was impatient. We tried. We waited. We prayed. We considered adoption, but it never seemed right. My youngest is almost ten years old and this girl never came. Eventually, her strong presence faded and the space in the family dinner table filled in as children’s bodies grew into teenagehood. The absence was accepted —
Until the dream was dreamed…when the gaping hole opened up and I fell in with a deep enough love that can crumble a body.
Is it possible to love someone who never was?
Can we still love the absent father? the ignoring mother? Can we love the friend who sets the appointment but never arrives? How about the man you were “supposed” to marry who never appeared on the scene? Can we love through the letter that never came? the waited-for apology? the boy whose car never pulled into the driveway? Can we love the husband who forgets again the birthday or anniversary? the past-curfew teenager who we wait for in the dark? the answer to a prayer that never seemed to be heard? the child who chose not to be born? Perhaps the answer can be found in another question: Can we love our dearest friends who sleep on while pain racks our body so that we bleed onto the garden floor?
The heart is a resilient thing. Tell us your story of how you loved the person who never was or the thing that never showed up.