It’s late at night for me to think about writing, let alone do it, but when Lala tells me flat out that she doesn’t plan to sleep in tomorrow morning, and I start feeling itchy with all I haven’t written, the thoughts in my head mingling with the rattling dishwasher noises in the kitchen, I know it is time to take a seat.
I haven’t known how to write about this week and a half we’ve been living. Details of a precious dog that turned startlingly aggressive and the decision to remove him from our home, and then the bawling conversations and then good-byes and then no place for him for a week and a half, so that Michael is living alone at our house with the dog we need to give away, while I’m living in my mother-in-law’s home with the girls.
Though there are parts that I may never be able to explain, it’s been one of the hardest spells for this little family of ours. The days stretch long, surreal and gray. We sought an answer to our many years’ longing for a dog, and we got one (again), wrapped in all kinds of miracle moments, and it looked like a sweet 11-month-old boxer-hound who felt like home, and now it looks like evening visits with papa and living out of laundry baskets and suitcases.
People have lived and are living through far worse (and we have, too), and so it’s weird to talk about, or write about, like this. But it’s our bizarre reality right now, and it is hard. I joked to friends the other night that there’s no support group for a family-living-across-town-from-each-other-while-they-wait-for-the-shelter-to-take-their-dog-in-and-they-try-to-make-life-move-along-as-normally-as-possible-for-their-kids-in-the-last-two-weeks-of-the-school-year, so here we are, trying to figure it out the best we can.
Shame wants me to stay quiet and lonely, but I know better than that anymore.
Long story, short: we opened our hearts all big and messy, and we got hurt. We are feeling the hurt.
I keep reminding myself to do the next thing we know. Sometimes it’s driving four and a half hours to the southern part of the state to be with my sister and her family to celebrate cousin birthdays circus-style, or it’s heading across town again to pick up kids or drop them off. Sometimes it’s a call to Michael at our house so we can sit in the sadness and weirdness together across the phone line, or sending out a request for prayers, or holding one of my girls close, or singing “Amazing Grace” even if I’m just sort of going through the motions.
We see our blessings clear as day: the support of dear people, a loving community, food to fill bellies, Oregon strawberries, fresh and clean water, a temporary and regular home, glorious June sunshine, a family life to which we long to return.
And we feel sorrow about dreams not panning out as we’d hoped, and I start crying when my little one burns her finger, and another slices her heel on a rock, and I can’t figure out the danged remotes, and I don’t know how to parent her kind of pain, and I miss my husband and how we do this together.
It’s all a jumble really, sort of like the way I load this foreign dishwasher.
We pray that God would be our Home — regardless of where we lay our heads, that the Great Weaver would make something good from all these loose threads, that we would choose greater gratitude and joy as our anchor. Really, we want to know grace in such ways that it would bleed for others who live trapped sorts of realities every day.
Beyond that, sometimes life doesn’t make sense, and so regrets and whys are a waste, and I don’t know how to wrap that up for me or them or you, and I pretty much know that’s not the point.
About a month ago, the words “Trust in God for God…and not for outcomes” dropped in my lap. And then they followed me all over the place. Before I had a clue why, they wouldn’t let me be.
Now I know. In these small everyday ways, we’re living them.