That’s what I wanted to re-name you.
And you probably recognize the name, because I have sang it to you in a thousand lullabies and occasionally yelled it when you reached into that desk drawer with all the pens in it, the drawer that I’ve told you a thousand times not to open.
It’s your name even though it was never really your name. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use it for another child—probably never—because every time I hear it I will remember how it made you tilt your pretty little head to the left in recognition. I will remember how you knew it as one of your own names, even though you had another name, one that was much less musical and much more crass. One that I only rarely could muster the courage to say without feeling all shades of wrong.
Do you know how much I love you? Do you know how hard I’ve fought for you? Of course not. What you know is your favorite little purple teacup, and your slide in the backyard, and your baby doll that you carry to me, teetering along on your tip-toes, exclaiming, “Diaper!” with a sly little smile. And you know that I always pretend to change your baby’s diaper and that I hand her back to you with my own exclamation of, “All clean!” Then you snuggle her and kiss her and off you run to whatever excites you next.
You know those things. You don’t know the war that I’ve fought for you.
I glanced at you today, and I started to sob. I heaved. I wept, and as you looked puzzled at my face, I realized this was really the first time you had ever seen me cry. I wondered if you understood what was happening and I think you may have, because you climbed into my lap and put your tiny little palm against my cheek.
I wanted so badly to be your mom.
Your birth mother scares the hell out of me.
Deidre, she’s probably going to beat you. She’s probably going to punish you for the bond that you’ve made with me. I’m sorry. Baby girl, I’m so very sorry. The thought that you will suffer harm at my expense, it kills me. I want to die…just…I’d die right now if I could. It feels so very much like I’m dying anyway.
I wish it could be me.
I wish I could somehow trade places with you and take every beating, every night of neglect, every exposure to danger. I wish I could let those evil men that she allows in her home prey on me instead. Let them rape me instead. Let them have my life. They can have it. Just please don’t let them hurt you.
I want you to know that I gave up on you for a minute today.
I want to be honest with you always. And I swear, if some crazy unexpected miracle happens and the judge rules in our favor on Monday, I’ll spend a lifetime being honest with you—in age appropriate ways, of course. But my dear baby I would always be honest with you. You wouldn’t ever need to hide a thing from me, even the ugly things. You wouldn’t ever have to worry that I was hiding a piece of myself from you. We would know each other, you and me. You could have a look into my soul whenever you wanted it. And I would pray that you would give me the same privilege over the years, if ever we got the chance.
So then my Deidre, in all honesty, I gave up on you.
Our caseworker sent me this email, and even though I was kind of expecting it, it still wrecked my world.
The Hearing will be in courtroom 5. I will not be there, but my supervisor will be covering my court hearings that day.
Yes, as you suspected and we discussed, we will be requesting reunification. We are requesting 90 days, but it usually happens before that time period. She will need to complete a reunification staffing with 2 supervisors to prove that she is ready to reunify. Once that is completed a date will be set for reunification. Barring a catastrophic breakdown in this case, she will be reunifying. I know you and James were looking forward to adopting the twins and you have done an amazing job raising them, but unfortunately, this is the way this system works. I truly wish you guys could be adopting them, as I believe you would be able to provide for them a better life than their natural mother.
And my dear Deidre, I shot him back this email of my own.
“For what it’s worth, if reunification is definitely happening, then I think we would like it to happen as quickly as possible. I’m not sure I can handle dragging it out for very long. But I will do my best. –H”
And then I wrote off both you and your brother in my heart. I said to myself that I was done and I wanted you out of my house and I wanted to finally, after a year of no sleep, get some sleep.
And then you both woke up from your naps.
And when I touched you I sobbed so hard that I couldn’t move, it brought me to my knees. It made my face contort in some horrible position, and I couldn’t stop my arms from reaching for something beyond me…although I don’t know what I was reaching for.
And so I amended my email.
“Actually that isn’t true. I can and will handle it. Take as long as you need. Sorry for the former irrationality. A day in my house is a safe day, and I want these babies to be safe for as long as possible. I’m sorry. Thanks –H”
Most likely, I have a week and ninety days left with you.
I will love you, baby, for every single one of these ninety-seven-or-so days.
I will diaper and re-diaper your baby doll. I will let you pull all the pens out of the pen drawer. And I will tuck you safely into your bed at night. I will sing you your lullaby until my voice cracks and dies.
My Deidre, you’re so beautiful to me
My Deidre, more than a million dollar ring
I’m so glad God gave you to me
Sleepy angel from the Prince of Peace
I’m so glad God gave you to me
Now close your eyes and go to sleep
And goodnight, goodnight
May God keep you and hold you tight
My baby love goodnight
Sweet baby love
90 and seven days.