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AVERYday: Remember and Keep - Part 26

I can't explain it except to say, I wish time would stop. I wish I could go back to those moments of just finding out. I know that sounds strange - why would I dare want to revisit the most horrific time in my personal history? But, well, there's something so absolutely sacred about that time. It's like that moment you give birth, and finally hold that previously imagined baby in your arms for the first time; the emotion that floods you - it's sacred. Over time that fades. Sure, you say you remember how filled with love you were; but can you actually still feel it?

When you get that knock on the door, or that phone call, or however the awful news is delivered, that emotion - although sprinkled in disbelief and wrapped in sorrow and pain - the emotion at the center of it all is love. Nothing but love. Sacred love. And I don't want that feeling to fade. Ever.

Time goes on. Clocks keep ticking. Calendar pages get flipped. But still, my heart aches.

I try to keep my head centered but I lose my breath when I pass the girls section at the store, or when I see a bunch of girls in their gymnastics leotards, or when I think about how she would love to go bowling, or ice skating or out to dinner, to the movies, horseback riding, and why didn't I take to the Renaissance Faire or Great America, and why can't she read a book, ride her bike, try out for the school play, practice piano or learn the trombone? And why can't I hear her laugh? I just want to hear her laughing.

And then I lose it. Again. Hands gripped tight the steering wheel, tears staining my face because the only time and place I have is the seven minutes in my car between work and home; because inside that car I don't have to be strong for anyone. I can be weak for my grief for my beautiful, now gone daughter.

Because I cannot sob at work because it scares the customers and there are phones to answer politely and papers that need to be filed and questions to be answered cheerfully.

Because I cannot sob at home, always detected by the 3-year old who looks at me with puppy-dog eyes and asks, "are you crying because you miss Avery so, so much?" "Yes, buddy. I miss Avery so much." "But you're so happy because you still have me here with you?" "Yes, buddy. I am SO HAPPY that I still have you here with me!" And I wipe the tears on the back of my sleeve and smile and hug reassured.

And you would think with my insurance it'd be easy to see a counselor but I've been only four times in four months and that's just not enough.

And it's been four months. Four months without.


The 4th commandment is "Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy." Remember.... and keep.

Remember. Do not forget.

Remember what God has done for you. Created this amazing beautiful world, formed the fishes and the sloths and the armadillos and the hues of tulips that never end. Remember the gifts, so many gifts, He gives us each and every day: gently fallen snow, the sun peeking over the ridge, the smell of fresh cut lawns and lemongrass.

Remember her eyes and her smile and the way she laughed out loud which was the best laugh in the world. Remember how gentle she was with her little brother and the way she carried him, half slipping through her arms even though he could walk, down the hall to get him ready for bed. Remember her plans and her faith and the way she stood up against someone hurting or demeaning another.

Do not forget.

And keep it.

'Remember the Sabbath,' He told us. 'It is holy. I have put you in charge; it is in your custody. Keep it holy. Protect it.'

Protect her. Keep her. For her memory and her love are in you. She is in your custody.

I have a responsibility as a Christian to remember all that God has given me. I have a responsibility as a Mother to remember all that she has given me, too.

I have a responsibility as a Christian to keep all that God has given me holy. Observe it. Protect it. Do it. Open my hands and take it; fall to my knees and give thanks; drink in His blessings and celebrate His joy-gifts! And I have a responsibility to keep all that Avery has given me. To celebrate her, to drink in her memory, to do something that will honor her. To fall to my knees and thank God for the time I had with her.

I have a friend at Bible Study who is an AFS Parent. This means she opened her home and her heart to care for a student from another country, so they could come to the United States and be immersed in our culture, learn our ways, experience our part of the world. I can honestly say that my friend and her family accept this student as their own. She has become part of their family, and my friend loves her as much as a mother could love a daughter... She took this borrowed-child into her heart and her home even though she knew full well it will end in heartbreak. She knew that her heart would swell, overflowing with love and happiness and laughter and then it would break completely. She took this on even though she knew that in one year's time she would have to send her borrowed-child back to a home where she herself has never been.

I feel like that. That maybe I was just the borrowed-parent. That Avery was borrowed to me for but a short time; that all of my children are on loan; that my role is to welcome them and love them and usher them into my heart and my home and that my heart will overflow with learning who they are, and laughing at their wit, and being so proud when they try something new --- but that I must also be prepared to send them back home. To live where they came from. Even though I've never been there.

God looked at His daughter, Avery, and chose the Host Family for her that He thought would learn the most from her. He chose this overwhelming love, and overwhelming heartbreak, for us.

That, just as my friend must parent, speak to, lead, this borrowed-child always thinking in the back of her head am I honoring her true parents? I, too, must remember that as I go about my days with Jadrian and Brody. Am I honoring their true Father?

I would never say to another person's child, "what is wrong with you? How could you do something so stupid?" And yet, I have said these same awful words to my oldest in anger about something unimportant; something that didn't matter, something I don't even remember - school or grades or friends. I thought she should know better. I thought she should have done different. I was angry, exasperated, frustrated, annoyed, tired, spent. But that is no excuse. There is nothing that can excuse that.

Could you imagine sitting across from God trying to explain why you chose the words you did? Why you chose the reaction you made? As He sat across from you with His child on His lap. Could you do anything but weep and beg for forgiveness?

I read the newspaper. Watch the news. I see post after post from my sister encouraging people to open their homes to foster children. All these mistreated children... God's children. We sit by and watch as another of His children are harmed. Emotionally, physically. Switch the channel. Turn the page. Pretend it isn't me causing the damage. Pretend I didn't notice the tears.

Did God want His child back because He was afraid she would be damaged in my care?

Or did she do such an amazing job teaching us about the unashamed faith of a child that God needed her to do bigger and better things from her real home?


And keep.


gradydoctor said…
Beautiful writing as always. You know what I always say to my boys when we are trying to figure out the whys? I say, "God is God." That is explanation enough. But as much as it encourages us it hurts sometimes, too.
Bridget, As I read this and envisioned the part: "Could you imagine sitting across from God trying to explain why you chose the words you did? Why you chose the reaction you made? As He sat across from you with His child on His lap. Could you do anything but weep and beg for forgiveness?"

Please always remember-never forget, that you too are God's child.
Katie Tripp said…
I can't even begin to fathom how hard this is for you. My brother was killed 11 years ago. We were both adults, but even now, I'll think I hear him laughing. There are so many things I remember about him, but that is the one that gets me when I'm walking through the mall, or out with a friend. I want to tell you it gets easier, it gets better, but it just changes. I hope you can take more time to go to counseling, to take care of yourself. Like Patricia says, you are God's child too. Prayers for you and your family.
Brenna said…
I know this is all part of your process, the one that's only yours, but it breaks my heart these times when you question yourself. I haven't only thought you were an amazing person since or because you lost your daughter, I could tell it from your writing about moldy spaghetti sauce and clandestine lawn poopers. I don't blow smoke, B. Patricia is right.
Getrealmommy said…
I agree with the other comments. You too deserve compassion and love. You have been a good mother, this is clear from your writing. I can't imagine this was ever because you weren't good enough.

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