Miracle Day: One Year Later

It isn’t difficult to call to mind and heart the feelings I had waking up exactly one year ago today.  Most of the time I can’t even remember how I felt one week ago today, but some days etch themselves into your brain and never fully fade from memory.

I woke up that day and savored those first few hazy moments where you can’t quite remember what is going on in your life, because your brain hasn’t woken up yet.  Even though I couldn’t remember why, I knew I should enjoy those blissful moments before reality set in.  I suppose it was a habit my mind had picked up over the last seven weeks, a small, warm measure of self-defense before being thrust into the cold, harshness of the day.

Then the fog cleared, and I was left with the truth – it was over.  The simple statement seemed mocking in the face of the complexity of what the last seven weeks had been, say nothing of the months before them.  The baby boy known only to the rest of the world as “M” was lost to us forever.  We had loved him, we had prepared for him, we had set up a bedroom in our house and forever in our hearts, we had fought for him.  But now, it was over.

In those first days seven weeks earlier, after getting that initial phone call, I remember walking around with the odd feeling was made of the most delicate glass, that the slightest bump or scrape would shatter me into a million pieces.  I have since talked with women who have experienced both late-term miscarriages and “late-term” adoption losses, and have been told that the pain is remarkably similar.  For seven months I loved that little boy with my whole self, but it was over now.

Mercifully, though the pain had not dulled in those seven weeks leading up to the “it’s over” phone call, the shattering feeling had lessened.  There was nothing else for me to do during those weeks, so I had thrown myself into Lord.  Though they had been the most difficult seven weeks of my life, I look back on them now with a odd fondness for the sweetness of that time with Him.  Through it came a sustaining, life-giving strength that showed me that there was a way forward.

On that very first day of those seven weeks, our pastor came over and sat with us while we bounced between grief and anger and confusion.  I remember being so grateful that even though he was technically my co-worker who the day before had probably been listening to an in-depth description from me about number of cheese slices and water balloons I still needed for VBS, he was still our pastor who dropped everything to sit on our couch with us – disheveled, sleep-deprived, and in our pajamas.

A lot of that day is incredibly hazy, but I do remember sitting there on our couch, him across from us on the recliner, and my mother-in-law in the kitchen warming up soup.  He shared this verse with us:

“I would have despaired, had I not expected to see the goodness of the Lord.”

 -Psalm 27:13

I don’t think I had ever heard that verse before.  Maybe I had skimmed over it once while reading, not yet knowing what “despair” was.  The verse lodged itself in my mind, I asked our pastor to write down the reference so I could come back to it.  It became a mantra I would repeat to myself daily for the remainder of that year and our adoption process, and still to this day.  During those seven weeks, I learned that despair hits us before we have time to even glance up and see that its coming, and I believe that God grieves with us in those times.  But at some point, He also provides a way out, a path forward.  A chance to expect to see His goodness, even with despair still breathing its hot breath down our necks.

One year ago today, I woke up on the second morning after the “it’s over” phone call, seven weeks and two days after the initial shock of despair.  As the haziness passed and the icy reality of the last weeks flooded back, there was something new.  A tiny light piercing through the darkness, a feeling that had been absent from my heart for awhile.  Hope.

I clung to that hope like a lifeline and let it pull me out of bed.  For the first time in weeks, I allowed myself to dip my toes into what might be ahead, rather than dwelling on what was now irrevocably in the past.  One of the main lessons I had learned during that time was to live one day at a time.  At that point, it had been a method of survival, as thinking beyond what was right in front of me was too exhausting and overwhelming.  Right now.  Today.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.  One foot in front of the other.

One year ago today, I began my day as had become my custom – repeating Psalm 27:13, asking for strength for the day, reminding myself to only focus on right now.  But I couldn’t shake that nagging feeling of hope, whispering in my ear to trust that something more was coming, asking me to expect to see His goodness.

Awhile later, still pondering this, my phone rang.  It wasn’t my usual ringtone, but the mechanical “Brrrrrring!  Brrrrrrring!” of an old-timey telephone.  Only one person in my contact list had a designated ringtone – our agency direct.  Over the last seven weeks I had developed a near-panic attack response to that sound, but this time I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself.  What was there possibly left to lose?

Even so, I tentatively answered and heard a familiar, Eastern European accent.  She had been calling with bad news for weeks, and had more than once just sat with me on the phone while I wept.  But this time, there was a lift in her voice – or was that me projecting on her the hope I so desperately wanted to feel?

She spoke for a few minutes about our options for moving forward, something Alex and I were just starting to feel recovered enough to consider.  I could tell this wasn’t the reason she called, though, and had a feeling she was leading up to something – something big.  Then, with a pause and a deep breath, she dove in.

The rest of the conversation is something I only remember now because in a ridiculous moment of foresight, I wrote most of down after we hung up.  Even then, I knew I would want to remember.

There was a baby.  A little boy who had just turned one.  A bundle of God’s goodness in the midst of our own despair.  And he could be ours.

“I’ve just sent you an email with pictures.  He’s beautiful … I don’t want to push anything on you guys, especially if you aren’t ready.  But, if you are, I think you would be perfect for him, and he would be perfect for you … talk to Alex and let me know what you want to do.”

Unable to fully comprehend what was happening, I sat down my phone and had to remind my feet how to walk me across the room to where my laptop was sitting on the kitchen table.

With shaking hands, I clicked on the email.  Just like that, my life was never the same again.

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The rest is truly unfathomable to me.  From a place of darkness and despair, to crying while looking at pictures on a computer screen, to eventually walking in that backyard … sitting on that porch … living in that house.  Feeling that miracle little boy as he is placed in my arms for the first time.

To now.  Exactly one year later, with him sitting at my kitchen table eating raspberries.

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How is it even possible?

One year ago, I didn’t know the joy of this child’s smile or recognize this sound of his cry.  I didn’t know that he loved cars and beets and had the ability to brighten anybody’s day.  But I knew that although God did not knit him in my womb, He had placed him in my heart and one day in my arms.  I knew it was the beginning of forever.

“I would have despaired, had I not expected to see the goodness of the Lord.”  

-Psalm 27:13

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