Add Another Charm
A few months after our second foster baby left I bought a charm bracelet. Yesterday I added a charm. This time I didn’t go alone to remember and grieve. I brought my little ones with me to remember and celebrate a baby we loved.
I asked, “Which one reminds you of Jason?” My five year old pointed to the elephant “because it’s a boy and Jason is a boy.” (Apparently all elephants are male?) The seven year old liked anything pink. My two year old just wanted to touch whatever he could. I began to doubt the wisdom of bringing them.
Then, “we should get the heart charm because we love him.”
I noticed the tense she used, not loved as I had said, but love. Removing this baby from our home didn’t place our love for him in the past. We can still love him, just like we still love Meg and Jenn.
“The heart is perfect, Katie,” I told her.
I didn’t add it to my bracelet then, with the small ones clambering for my attention. I waited until later when I was alone. We stopped at a park and the little ones ran off to play, to run. Blond, red, and brown hair shining in the sun. Sundresses whipping in the wind. Shrieks of laughter. Calls for mama to join in. Life continuing so free and bright as I removed the small chunky heart charm from a hinged white box.
I took off my bracelet and stared at it, spending an absurd amount of thought deciding the order. Three charms and one cross. A charm for each of the babies we’ve loved and let go, the cross for the One who watches over them. Whose should go beside Jesus? I wondered, as if the cross beside a charm somehow kept that child nearer to their savior. I slowly threaded Jason’s onto the chain beside the cross and moved Meggie’s away. She is safe in a good home; her need isn’t as desperate.
I didn’t cry as I refastened it to my wrist. Sometimes the tears don’t come, just the hollow brittle feeling that something is terribly wrong. I think of a fostering family I know who had a baby in their care for less than a week. I wonder if I envy them. Would I rather have had Jason for just a few days? Wouldn’t the pain be less? Is being the one who saw his first smile, the first person he called mama, the one he reached to for nearly a year, worth this pain, this loss?
Are the memories worth the heartache?
"Oh, are you starting a charm bracelet?" an acquaintance asked, looking at the sparsely clad chain on my wrist. I didn't, couldn't answer. "Hopefully, you'll get a few more soon," she added helpfully.
"Please, God, no," I prayed in my heart. "Never again."
It’s hard now, but we’ll grieve. We’ll go on. The One who called our family to this is faithful and is carrying us through. Someday, I’ll spin the little heart on my wrist with a smile instead of tears, remembering the good times and praying for Jason wherever he might be.