On Being Ready

I visited Wyatt for five weeks before I was legally allowed to take him with me. For five weeks I drove two hours there, stayed a few hours, and drove two hours back to the city where I was staying. Five weeks. Those were some of the longest and hardest five weeks of my life to date. I loved going to visit him because I got to see him. I got to know him, on his turf, and in his environment. I got to teach him to roll cars back and forth and to play peek-a-boo. I got to hold him and sing to him and rock him to sleep. I hated going to visit him because I had to leave him. I had to walk away from a child I was trying to form a relationship with, a child I was supposed to view as my own, but was waiting for someone else to tell me if that was or wasn’t going to happen. I was asking a child to trust me, to risk love, and then every single time I walked away. And so those visits were both sweet and terrible.

The screams that would occur when I left still to this day make me sick to my stomach. There is something so unnatural, almost outer body, about having to walk away from a screaming baby, a baby who is screaming specifically for you. A baby who is screaming for you to stay, and then five weeks later will scream all over again for months because you took him away. Grief is so confusing like that. And so when it was time to go, I would hand him back to one of his sweet caregivers and walk away. I would turn around and walk the walk back to my car never once looking back. I couldn’t look back. And so I would just walk, with a giant lump in my throat, thinking this had to be the world’s worst plan. How can this, what I’m currently doing, be good for a kid? As I would walk, listening to the screams of the baby who is now my own, I would say over and over and over again: “Please God let him be okay. Please God let him be okay. Please God let him be okay.” All the way back to the car, and the two hours back to the city, those words, on repeat.

One of my favorite things to do while I was visiting Wyatt was to sing him songs and rock him to sleep. One of my most favorite memories is showing up one day and having a girl say to me: “He cries when you are not here and he sings your songs.” Bless. So I would sing and rock and hold him while he slept. And I would say: “please God please God please God.” Over and over and over again while he slept in my arms.

Please God, let this happen. Please God, let me be okay if it doesn’t. Please God, let this be right. Please God, keep satan away. Please God, let me believe regardless of the outcome. PLEASE GOD PLEASE GOD PLEASE GOD.

The other day I rocked Wyatt and held him while he slept. I haven’t really done that much since the Uganda days. He had woken up riding the whiny train, and in our house if you whine before I have had one sip of coffee you get to go back to bed after breakfast. So that was where we were. I was rocking that sweet, whiny boy back to sleep. I held him and rocked and he fell asleep, and it all just reminded me so much of Uganda I almost couldn’t breathe.

I was reminded of how scared I was to love him. I was reminded how terrified I was to risk hurting another tiny human being again, how terrified I was of being hurt all over again. As I rocked I thought about faith, how much going back to Uganda was just that: an act of faith. I thought about how guarded I was, how prepared I was to walk away for good, forever, to come home again sans a child. I was reminded of how much I had to reconcile: getting to a place where I believed that God was still good, even if the same thing happened again. I just sat and rocked and remembered how hard all of that was.

And then I sat and rocked and thought about how sweet it is right now, six months later. I thought about how thankful I am, for him, for how he’s growing and changing. I thought about how thankful I am, for him, for how he’s growing and changing us, too.

Later that day I had a friend ask me how I got to that place of doing it again and I almost laughed because I was like, I DIDN’T. I knew we weren’t done but I was in no way ready to go back. I was never ready to actually get on a plane and do it all over again. That’s why it was a secret, because I didn’t believe it would really happen. That’s why I didn’t talk about it, because it made me physically sick to my stomach to think about. That’s why I didn’t buy one thing for Wyatt before we left, because I didn’t believe he would ever live in our house. I got a tattoo, for crying out loud, because I needed something on my actual body that would help me go back. I bought a necklace with the word “courage” on it and wore it almost every day I was there, just as a reminder and more like a trick into believing I had courage. I was never ready, though. I don’t think I ever would have been ready.

Six months later and I think I’m finding that I’m just really thankful that I wasn’t.

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