Don’t be sad that it’s over, just be glad that it happened to us.
That’s the first line of a song that’s been on repeat since this morning. It’s a song I’m sure a lot of girls play after a breakup, but that’s not why I’m playing it. I’m playing it because my heart is preparing to let go of a precious little one, yet again.
She came to us temporarily and we knew that. This sweet, prematurely born little one was only going to be staying in our home for two weeks. We were respite care for the current foster family and thought our hearts could handle needing to let go of a little one in just two weeks.
I won’t get attached. I know she’s leaving in two weeks. I told myself. The first night, I was fine. She was cute, I enjoyed holding her, but I refused to allow myself to love her. I selfishly wanted to protect my own heart, knowing that in a short fourteen days I’d be saying goodbye.
The next morning I came down for breakfast with my family and she was laying in her little bouncer. I came over and kissed her good morning. She cooed and moved around the way infants do. I’m still safe. She’s cute, but I won’t get attached.
Later that day, I went over to where she was and started talking to her. She locked eyes with mine and smiled the biggest smile I ever saw on such a tiny little human being. My heart jumped for joy inside of me and I realized that in that moment, my heart had opened just a little more to let her in. I was falling in love with this precious little girl and it had only been 24 hours.
I spent the weekend playing with her, holding her, feeding her, and ensuring she knew she was loved by our actions. I refused to say those three words though, because I knew the moment I did, there was no turning back.
A few days went by and while my heart had opened to her, I still felt emotionally safe. Then one morning, my heart overflowed with what it contained. I was holding her and looking at her smiling face when out of my mouth came the words I love you little one. I froze. That wasn’t supposed to happen! What happened to keeping my heart safe? What happened to not getting too close or too attached?
And then I realized, it was freeing. She deserved love even though I knew it would bring me pain. She deserved to know how precious and treasured she is. She deserved to have what she hadn’t been given in the womb – love, protection, and safety. I held her close and kissed her head, knowing that goodbye was going to become harder than I imagined.
Over the last two weeks, I’ve experienced more joy from this little one than I’ve felt in a long time. It’s the pure, innocent joy that comes with no strings attached. It’s the love of an infant who has a smile so big that it makes your heart melt faster than you can handle. It’s the tiny hands that hold tightly to yours and the trust you’ll hold them tightly as they sleep on your shoulder.
The pain of letting go never gets easier. In fact, sometimes it hurts even more than it did before. Each time I think I’ll handle it better… and then I find myself rushing home to hold her just a little longer. And as I scoop her up into my arms, the tears begin to flow as my mind begins to count. My mind counts the number of times I’ve held her. Then, I study her delicate face and hope to store the memory so deeply that I’ll never forget how this moment felt. And then, my mind begins to count down the hours I have left to watch her sleep peacefully in my arms.
She gently stirs in my arms and I hold her closer, as I whisper I love you so much little one and I’m going to miss you so much. She won’t remember me, but I’ll never forget her.
Tonight, we’re less than 48 hours away from returning her to her current foster family. I won’t lie and say I haven’t prayed to God, asking for some miracle that will let her stay with us longer.
The image of her round face the first time I saw her is forever imprinted on my mind. But her smile, her love, and her pure joy is forever imprinted on my heart.
Here’s to you little one. May you grow strong, may you do amazing things for God’s glory, and may you always know how much you’re loved.
Until we meet again, little one.