It's been awfully quiet around here lately. No more belly laughs from Little Man. No more begging for cottage cheese. No more throwing balls at people's heads. Never thought I'd miss that.
Over three weeks have passed since he left, but I still hear him in the morning sometimes, babbling to himself in his crib while he waits for me to come. But of course, he's not there. Many people have asked me if we'll ever do it again. Take another placement. The way they ask and the look on their faces tell me they wouldn't blame me if I said no. If I said I was done with this whole fostering thing.
Let me tell you something I've learned in the past three weeks, after the loss of my foster son and the loss of a dear friend's son. It came at a high cost, and it has nothing to do with fostering. It has to do with grief, and time, and family. I've learned that those three things are more connected than I ever realized. Nothing can cause us greater grief or comfort us more in our grief than family. And the amount of time someone was part of your family doesn't change the amount of grief at losing them. Whether you had them for 5 days or 3 months, 10 years or 75, you will grieve. The tone of your grief, the look of it, the after-effects, will differ depending on time. But loss is loss. Grief is grief. And family is family.
But family means something different to me now than it did ten years ago. Ten years ago, I had never adopted a child. Never fostered a child. Never had people in my day-to-day life as close or closer to me than anyone biologically related. But now all those things are true. And my life is richer for it, but the pain is also deeper. The loss cuts even more.
Now one piece of my heart is living in another state with a new family and another piece is living in heaven. But they will always be with me. Because when you open your heart, open your home, well, this is what happens. You open yourself up for more pain...and more family. More everything, good and bad.
No, I'm not done with fostering. I dove into it head-first and almost broke my neck, but I'm going to do it again.
It's going to hurt. Choosing to love others always does. But if you try to spare yourself from grief...you miss out on life.