Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Xander {Our Lasts...}

This Roller-Coaster Life has been EMOTIONAL in the EXTREME lately.
And, just to forewarn you,
this post is going to be EMOTIONAL in the EXTREME.
I cried my way through writing it.
Why? Well...

This past weekend was our family's last weekend with Xander.

Mommy Candace did her best to make their last few days memorable
and as normal as possible under the circumstances.
But naturally it was difficult.

 Mommy Candace was generous enough to let me pick Xander up 
from his last day of nursery at church on Sunday.
I made sure I memorized the moment.
I have a permanent picture in my head of his little round face
gazing up at me expectantly when peeked in the nursery door at him.
And I'll never forget how he snuggled into my arms 
when I picked him up.
I needed that "normal" moment to say goodbye.
This is a really bad photo, but it was our last photo together...so...I had to share it.

I, and really our entire family, basically said goodbye all day.
We all have little moments from the day
that we will never forget.

Xander's 1st Birthday/Farewell Party was held at the Pizza Ranch.
 And, yes, I took a TON of photos
and will be sharing them with you at a later date.
I'm a pathological picture-taker. 
It's who I am...and it's what I do.
I was privileged to buckle Xander in his car seat 
for his ride home from the Pizza Ranch.
I treasure those "normal" memories now
...as all my family does.

But we all still felt the sucker-punch of the loss
when it came to last hugs and kisses.
I personally felt that I had left my guts there on the floor 
of the Pizza Ranch when I was pulling out of the parking lot.

 It made me think of a poem I had read
about a mother wishing she had treasured the small moments
of her children's lives more than she did.
Because one day, she woke up and realized 
she had missed the last crawl,
the last bottle, the last time being called "Mommy"...
Our family didn't miss the lasts with Xander.
We noted them.
We stored them away in special places in our hearts
- never to be forgotten
In those final moments that he was ours,
 we all held Xander closer,
hugged him tighter,
 and kissed him longer.
'Cause, barring a miracle, we knew it was our last chance.

I've always loved kids and babies in particular.
Ask anyone who knows me,
I've ALWAYS got a kid with me.
I'm constantly carrying one around church with me
just for the fun of it.
Just for the chance to cuddle for a few moments.
But it was different with Xander.

He wasn't just another baby to me.
He became a part of me.
I don't know when it happened.
Maybe it was part of taking his photos so often
(I was privileged to take his newborn, 3 month, 
7 month, and finally his First Birthday photos). 

Maybe it was spending last Christmas Eve and Christmas Night 
with him up at Children's Hospital of Illinois 
when he was so ill with respiratory issues.
I stayed those evenings so Mommy Candace could spend 
a little bit of holiday time with her other babies, 
her husband, and her extended family.
I spent hours alternating rocking him and reading to him those nights.
You might think it strange,
but I read Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol to him.
And I'm so glad I did.

Maybe it was taking him home to my house after a family birthday party 
so Mommy Candace could take her other babies swimming in the hotel pool.

Or maybe it was just one of the thousands of times
he threw up on me and then gazed into my eyes
as if to say, "Eww...that was yucky." :)

I don't know when it happened.
But somewhere along the line Xander stopped being
Candace's foster baby and he became my baby too.
 Xander changed me.
And I'll never be the same.

Mommy Candace and the rest of our family
are doing as well as can be expected.
In fact, Candace amazes me.
Xander was removed from her home at approximately 6pm yesterday
and she was at church worshipping her heart out at 7pm.
Honestly, as torn up as I feel at this moment,
I know it's worse for her.
And I don't know if I could keep going 
the way that she has if I were in her shoes.

This morning, her Facebook post put a smile on my face
and a a song in my heart. 
She said, "Can't stop singing...I call you faithful,
your name is faithful, you are so faithful to me. 
I call you faithful, your name is faithful. 
Faithful you are and faithful you'll be!"
She was speaking of God and His faithfulness
on the morning after having her youngest child removed from her home.
As if that isn't enough,
she just Facebook-ed me to check to see how I was doing...
Yeah...she amazes me.

I would like to believe I would be speaking of God and His faithfulness
if I was in Candace's place but I'm just not sure.
I've been questioning God as it is.
"God, are You sure this Your Will?
'Cause it doesn't seem right.
God, I know You are Sovereign and that You don't make mistakes,
but this can't be right."

I don't understand what He doing.
And I definitely don't like it.
But He's always come through before.
He's always been faithful.
So I'm choosing to trust Him.
"Jesus, I put Xander in Your Hands.
I know You'll take care of Him.
I know You've got a plan for His life.

Father, our family needs Your comfort right now.
Please send Your Extraordinary Peace to us.
Remind us Who You are
and how much You love us and Xander.
Help us to trust You when we feel like we can't anymore.
Thank You, Jesus.
I love You."