My mother in law's birthday passed a week and half ago, and I had a necklace made for her with Jesse and Alex's names and birthdays on it. Before I gave the necklace to my mom, I realized I didn't put TJ's name on there w/ his birthday. It makes me cry to think that I didn't put him on the necklace. I'm certain I can have it still done, but I didn't do it in the first place. I'm not going to beat myself up over it, but it just stinks.
I am certain he's in heaven dancing with Jesus with his twin sister, who didn't make it past her first breath, but I miss him all the same. I do not regret the pain we experienced when he passed away; it marks the joy we felt for him when he was alive. And I know I never held him or laid eyes on more than a picture, but I did pick up the dirt where he was buried and cried with those who loved him here and in Ethiopia. There is just an ache in my heart today for him.
One of the most emotional parts of our second trip to Ethiopia to bring home Jesse, was saying goodbye to Almaz; she runs Hannah's Hope in Ethiopia. My last words to her were, "Thank you for all that you've done for both my boys," amidst tears, which we both shed. One of my friends, who traveled with us on both trips to Ethiopia and was bringing home her second child, said to me that Almaz is one of her heroes. I understand why. She and her staff pours so much into the children who have nothing, in hopes of giving them love and good health. It takes a sharp, no nonsense woman to make that happen. The goal is to give the kiddos a loving and safe place for them to live until their families are able to get through the process to bring them home. They are family. I can't imagine how hard it was for Almaz and the special moms, who fought so hard for him not to leave the hospital, to see him not make it. I could still feel Almaz's frustration when we met in June.
The amazing thing is God's sovereignty. When TJ passed away and through the grieving process, I feel like I've changed, I feel like my family has changed. We are not the same that we were in some ways. I don't really want to entertain nonsense anymore, and when I feel it arising in myself, I'm much more vigilant of it and want to repent much sooner than perhaps I did before all of this. There are probably other things I see different too, but that's the most poignant. I see how distracting life can get, and I want to keep the main thing the main thing. God comes first, even amidst the pressure of suburban sports, material possessions, career drive, etc. I admit that I was very distracted and disillusioned for awhile; I had and still have a lot to learn!
One of the highlights of going to Africa was traveling with the family that we bumped back a number on the waiting list when we decided to re-enter the process after TJ died. Essentially, they were lined up to be Jesse's family, and if we returned to the process with the difference of just a week or two, we would have been their little boy's family. God had it all under control, though. For anyone who has been in the international adoption process, the waiting list is SO difficult, and every move you make on the "list" is so significant each month. Here was the moment: Steve and I were in the living room at Hannah's Hope with Jesse in our arms and the other family was with us with their gorgeous boy in their arms, and we began to share how we lost TJ and returned to the list in January, etc... Julie said that she remembers when they were told they were bumped back a number, but they felt a true peace about it...we bumped her. Holding our boys in our arms and having that realization was huge. I felt God's sovereignty in that room in such a big way, and I feel so blessed that God gave us that moment. I will never forget that. I couldn't have written that script if I tried.
He is real. I don't care what anyone says. God is real. I think about how much He loves his son and what He watched him endure for us, and I get to have moments like those. I am so humbled. TJ's life has (present tense) great purpose, and the missing him reminds me of what God has done through my pain, like the pain that Jesus went through for us. I also know there's so many more nuances that I haven't discovered yet in this journey. But I'm here, and my heart is open.
|TJ Sidrak Craig, still loved.|