Sunday, June 6, 2010

That Moment.

(*As you guys know, I rarely talk about Seth on the blog.  It's just one of those things.  He's not ours anymore, and sometimes saying his name in a public forum -- even if it's just the name we call him, feels disrespectful.  I don't know.  He's such a huge part of us, and he always will be.  So many of you have been so kind to ask me about him - if I know how he's doing, if we ever get to see him, that I decided to tell you this story.)

I've always wondered what I would do - if I ever saw him again.

I remember the last time we saw him.

It was the week of his first birthday at my parents' house.  A couple of weeks before we would learn the decision by the Supreme Court.

Had I known then it was just fifteen short days away, I would've...


Wept.  Clung to him.  Given him a lifetime's worth of kisses.  Sang "You Are My Sunshine" over and over to him until it was embedded in his memory.  Begged God for just one more day.

Booked the fastest jet to a deserted island?

I've often thought about that.  That it was good I didn't know.  Good that I didn't have a chance to think.  To react.

Good that he was back in the care of his sweet interim foster parents and that we were miles away back in Albuquerque.  Good there was a 900 mile buffer between us that day when the phone rang at 11:11 and we learned that the last time we had seen our baby boy was, indeed -

...the last time.

Good that God, in his infinite wisdom, only reveals to us what He wants us to see, when He wants us to see it.  Good that He is in control - He is still God, He is still good, His will is still perfect - even when our world shatters and we are left broken and numb.


We often return to the small town where we grew up...where our parents still live...where he lives with his paternal grandparents.  Especially now that we're only a couple hours away, we love to go back.  It's a small town.  An everybody-knows-everybody kind of town.  So I always knew it was possible that I would see him again.

Not as his mom.  Just as someone who knew him.  Who he didn't know anymore.

I've always wondered how I would react in that moment.  Worried, actually.  I've had this vision of me bumping into him in Walmart.  Rounding a corner and BOOM...there he is in the chip aisle.  I saw myself standing there.  Stunned.  Crying.  Laughing?  Being pulled towards him by a force stronger than I could resist.  I don't know...  I definitely saw myself being "that weird lady in Walmart".  Not escaping gracefully.


I had in my head it would be at Walmart.  In Small Town, America everything happens at Walmart. Always. (Give me dirty bun-head, no makeup, a pair of yoga pants, and five minutes in Walmart, and I'll run into every person I haven't seen since high school graduation. Guaranteed.) Because of that, I've always been on guard at Walmart.  For six years, I've been on alert.  Whenever mom sends me there for something, my mission is always the same: Get In, Get Out.  I'm like a stealth bomber.  Grab the lettuce, drop the money, fly out.  At Walmart, I am prepared.

I wasn't prepared at the China Restaurant.

About a month ago we went home for the weekend, and as she always does, Sophie requested that we eat at her favorite spot.  Nothing says fine Chinese dining like red jello blocks and shrimp cocktail - woo!  And in typical fashion, when she saw we were nearing the end of our meal, she asked if she could have a quarter for the toy machines up front.  It's a simple thrill for her, and one I always try to oblige if I have any loose change.  I dug one out, handed it over, and walked a few steps behind her up towards the lobby of the restaurant.

Just as we were almost there, a little boy darted up and fell in step beside her.

I didn't see his face.  He didn't notice me.  I remember thinking he looked cute walking up with Sophie, but he was just a kid.  A kid with a cute back.  He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Sophie at the machines, perusing the fine selection of googly eyes, plastic jewelry, stickers, gumballs, and various other assorted five-year-old Must Haves.  They talked back-and-forth.  Sophie mostly talked.  He mostly listened and nodded.

Then Sophie's quarter got stuck.  She jiggled the machine for awhile, twisted the knob, poked at the glass - trying her best to unlodge it before yelling in her oh-so patient way, "Mama!"

It was with that one word that they both turned around.

And there he was.

One-year-old-him in a six-year-old body.

Same determined little jawline.  Same cautious stance.  Same searching eyes.

I gasped.  Put my hand up to my mouth.

Sat quickly on the stool that God had conveniently placed by the toy machines that day. 

Every fiber in my being wanted to hug him. 

I sat on my hands to keep from grabbing him and I turned my attention to Sophie.

I tried to hear what she was telling me.  But my mind was spinning...

Seeing her standing there.  Seeing him standing right beside her.  A million what-ifs whizzed through my brain in an instant.  A world of emotions.  So many possibilities.

I couldn't help but think, "He would've been such a good big brother."

He smiled at me.  That crooked little grin.

No recognition.  Just a hesitant smile for a stranger.

That's when Russ finished paying at the register and turned toward us.  He saw his face and froze.  I knew he knew.

Seth walked back to his table, where his babysitter stood chatting with some friends - oblivious to our little moment.

Sophie's quarter magically unstuck and she picked out a toy.

I exhaled and stood up.  Legs wobbly, like a baby deer.

Russ and I each took one of Sophie's hands and the three of us walked out the door. 

I looked back.  Suddenly stuck by an overwhelming feeling that I was leaving something important behind.  I squeezed Sophie's hand tighter. In the car just as we were driving away, we heard a voice from the back seat.

"Who was that little boy, Mama?  Did you know him?"

I guess she felt it, too.

All of a sudden my eyes filled with tears and I felt such a rush of gratitude.  God had provided us the perfect moment with our son.  It wasn't awkward or tense or confusing.  It was just us...and him. 

For three minutes.

And it was enough.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Kristy. You are amazing. I stopped breathing as I read this. You have such a gift for describing your life. My heart was with you as I read this entry. I hope you see Seth again. Sophie is a lucky girl to have you Russ as parents.


richies said...

I can't imagine your emotions as you went through this

An Arkies Musings

Anonymous said...

When your strength is failing
and you are faltering in your faith
pause for a moment, take a deep breath
and God your Father who is the source
of your strength, will refresh and re-kindle your faith....
Remember the battle is not yours,
it is the Lord’s battle, and He is
fighting for you.
Don’t ever forget to wait on the Lord.
God will continually give you strength
to overcome every trial and sustain you
in your weakest moments.
By Margaret C. Mullings


IvoryKeys said...

Remember that God brings people into our lives for a purpose that we may never understand. Whether it be for a moment, a minute, a season, or a lifetime. You may never know the impact your love for Seth had on his life from day one but God knows. This moment...precious...fleeting was given to you for a purpose too. To heal? To be able to breathe? To inspire others? Maybe some of that and more.


Anonymous said...

When I logged on to check my facebook today, I didn't know today would be the day that I cried. What a precious story of how love changes us forever! Regardless of the whether the one we love is with us in our lives today or not. AMAZING story Kristy! and thanks so much for sharing! I hope you don't mind that I paste a link from my page.


Anonymous said...

All I can say is WOW!!! You have such an amazing way with words..the whole time I was reading it I was playing it out in my mind...what an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. You are such a trusting, faithful, and Godly woman...


Anonymous said...

I am What a powerful moment, thank you for sharing.

Brett said...

Wow - that was tough. I believe that you handled it with unbelievable grace. I'm not sure, but I think I'm starting my week a little bit teary eyed. I'm sure it was tough to write, but excellent job passing along the imagery to us!

Anonymous said...

I am in tears, Kristy. I love that you guys had your family moment. All four of you. It seems very right, the way you describe it. With all the pain, you guys still overflow with love.


Anonymous said... are an inspiration to so many people. I am so glad you had your moment. You have such a gift of bringing your readers right along with you in your life --- just like we were there. The ability to bring those emotions we all have right to the surface and to connect with you in your emotions. I hope one day to give you the biggest hug! You are amazing! HUGS!


Anonymous said...

Oh... tears down my face. Right now. I just know bits of your story from Lisa. You are quite the gal. ...Your gift with words, the way you point to our Lord - even and especially in the pain.... Thank you for sharing this story. It is lovely.
Now I just have to explain to my hubby why I'm crying. :)

Anonymous said...

I, too, held my breath! Kristy, words escape me ... I'm glad you had that moment! You need to write for a living!! Sally x

Anonymous said...

WOW! That's all I can say! Words fail me!


Jamie said...

This story needs to be in a book. I am still crying.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Tears. Tears. Tears. Hugs for you.

~Diana W.

Not quite the Bradys said...

I love that you shared this. Tears are streaming down my face. I am so glad for this tender mercy from the Lord. He is so good.

Anonymous said...

You are a truly amazing woman!!! What a touching story.


Anonymous said...

my heart hurts reading this. i've read your blog for awhile now and can clearly see what amazing parents you and russ are...i had no idea you'd endured such heartbreak. i'm sorry you went through this and i'm sorry seth won't have the incredible BLESSING of having you two as his parents. blessings to you all.

Anonymous said...

Oh sweet sister!! I hadn't read this until now & I am just moved beyond words. You had told me the story but to be able to be there, in that moment, through your words, well I am.... a mess. In a good & bad way, & I think you understand that. I love you guys so much, ALL of you. I hope you knew why I had left you a message on that day, just so you knew that you were in my thoughts & prayers. You need to write a book so that others can experience the incredible gift that we all know you have. Much much love.


Russ said...

8!!!! Is he really 8 today? I miss him everyday.

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