Into my hair, Mr. Wonderful whispered, “It shouldn’t have been this way.” I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have to. My guttural cries and heaving chest said everything I could not: It really should not have been this way.
I was only watching a show on television. And after it was finished, I was just taking all the accumulated Christmas presents off the top shelf in my closet to assess the situation, and note what still needs to be purchased, made, etc. I was satisfied to see that we’re nearly finished with Christmas shopping. Next, I was going to make a list of items to be bought for our Thanksgiving feast. Everything is being pared down and simplified this year, so the lists are rather small.
I got dressed for work a bit early, so I had the time for all of the above before going into work. But then I found a picture in the bottom of a box. It was a picture from earlier this year. Adoption Day, May 29, 2013. It was taken at the girls’ favorite restaurant, Olympic Coney Island, with the proprietor, Mr. Noah.
See the joy in their eyes? They were wild with excitement that day! It was glorious for all of us. We were surrounded by family, an friends, and everything was right in the world. We were planning a trip the next weekend to see our friends in the Chicago area, and then, BAM! Letter in the mail. Wild accusations, and please come to a meeting.
The meeting happened after our weekend in Chicago. It was the middle of June, I think. We were excited to be finished with that nasty lie, and get the air cleared. Carl was going to have to face a group of people, and that might be uncomfortable for him, but it was supposed to turn out good, with everyone wondering why the big deal was made over a misunderstanding, over the nasty, treacherous lies of a person who has nothing better to do than to try to ruin the happiness of others.
The girls were playing upstairs on the day of the meeting, and I was running on the treadmill in the basement, and praying for Carl to be strong during the meeting, and not be nervous. I prayed boldly for Carl, that those at the meeting would see his true heart, and believe the truth of the matter. I prayed nonstop for 40 minutes as I finished my run and completed some laundry. And as I began to walk on the treadmill again, because I felt the need to keep moving.
And then the text came from Carl: Didn’t go well. We have 2 weeks of pay, and 30 days to leave our home.
Never in a million years did I suspect that would be the decision. Never, ever. Not my Carl, this wonderful human being, this virtuous man, this person who always helps those in need, who has the most generous heart, who loves God more than anything else in this whole world. Surely, God heard my prayer?
GOD! Didn’t you just tell my heart that everything was going to turn out fine, even better than before this meeting? God, didn’t we commune? Didn’t you hear me? Wasn’t that You, saying that it was going to be OK? Didn’t you tell me? Didn’t you! What happened?!
The raw emotion over the next two weeks was almost frightening. Several good friends, and people within the organization offered support, and words of comfort. Many people stopped by to offer hugs, offer a place for us to stay, and handed us cash.
I will never listen to a single person who says there is no good in the world, because in our time of desperation, there were people at every turn. People loving God, loving us, and caring for us. I don’t know if I can even count the mass of financial help that has been thrust into our hands. It’s been ongoing since June. And just the other day, we received more in the mail. And at church last week, I shook someone’s hand and they palmed me some cash, and I find it in my wallet when I knew there wasn’t any before. From every single direction, from so many people, but it’s God making sure we’re taken care of. God who is fulfilling the need. Because we could not, CAN NOT do this on our own.
It’s been just over 5 months since this all happened. We have our good days and bad days, and right this moment I am so angry and hurt that I could spit. (That’s Jenny-talk for really, really mad.) I am very frustrated that my children had to be put through this. They don’t have this look of joy in their eyes anymore. They had to grow up a lot. But I think we’re closer as a family now, as well.
Since this happened, we have learned who our true friends are. We have learned the depth of caring that we didn’t know existed. We have fought against those lies and won on paper, if not in actuality. Everyone always knew it was a pack of lies. Everyone still knows that. People are praying for us and standing by us and offering help to us and taking care of our kids and us in every possible way. Sure. we’re upset that Carl hasn’t gone back to work yet, but really that’s just a matter of time.
And now I’m left here wondering: if so many good things have come about since this shake-up, then why am I still angry, offended, frustrated, upset, ticked-off, unsteady, lonesome, and nostalgic for the things we left behind?
This is a grief process. At first, everyone acknowledges it. People send cards and offer hugs. You get through the initial stages and then after a while, it’s not in everyone’s face anymore. You think you’re doing alright, and then out of nowhere, WHAM! (like today) and then you’re back in the tranches, fighting for your next breath, your sanity, and trying to find God in the middle of it all.
We have gift certificates to eat at Olympic. Every time we’re back in Flint, I can’t bear to go there. It was our place of refuge in that city. It was our place to be a family. We were always welcomed with hugs and smiles. It was always a happy place. And sometimes, especially while working through grief, you just don’t want to be happy.
Dear Father God, I know you’ve walked with us each and every step of this journey. I know you’ve sent friends and family to care for us and help us. Please give us peace in our hearts, and spur us on to the next leg of our journey. I’m ready to be done crying, and ready to work. Prepare us for what happens next. You know I so loathe not knowing what’s going to happen, but help me to roll with it. Help me to be a strength for those around me, and not a downer. Thank you for being a good God, and for helping us at every turn. Your constancy is amazing. Your love is unending. Help me to remember that when times are tough. In Jesus’ name, amen.