“Daddy, Mommy is just like me and Hope,” she shot out from the backseat. “She’s an orphan.”
The fact that my daughter, now with our family for over 2 months, still saw herself as an orphan and that she somehow made a delineation between our most recent two and the earlier two we had adopted, was lost on me at that moment. Her words were like a puncture wound.
Two years ago tomorrow, my father went home.
And what I’m learning about grief is that it comes at the times I least expect it. The summer-streaked sky bears witness to a surprise thunder crack and I’m swept with sadness. My dad loved thunderstorms and he taught me to love what he loved. There’s a rare thunderstorm that doesn’t leave me thinking of my father.
And these words from my daughter about where my father’s death has left me with another wave. I bit my lip and my eyes flooded with tears as Nate quickly responded “Sweetheart, you and Hope are not orphans anymore.”
But what about me?
You’re never old enough to witness the death of a parent and feel like it’s normal. Though my father had been ill for some time, his death was an amputation. How can I learn to walk without this leg?
Today I made my Wednesday retreat to the prayer room with this anniversary — such an arbitrary date I’m supposed to feel something around yet a real and tangible reminder of what I’ve lost — in mind. I didn’t pray about it or bring it to His attention, but the remainder marks that hang in our backdrops are God’s territory.
I read this: For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18).
I have this haunting question: what about them? And it surfaces every few weeks, as I’m reminded of all the children who fill the orphanage floors and city streets, without parents waiting for them. Between now and when there is tangible relief, what hope is there?
The answer is the same for them as it is for anyone else, young or old, living with an amputation.
God fills in the gaps. Young and old, we have access to the Father.
And if I was ever tempted to deny God’s goodness to even the sickest child, living on death’s doorstep without a parent in the wings, I just need to remember the early signs of Him each one of my children brought into our home.
Within a day or two of being home, I found Eden and Caleb huddled on our steps, prostrate. “Pray,” they told me in Amharic [Salut]. I hadn’t yet had words to tell them of Him, but the One who went before me did. And part of their life was talking to Him.
“Jesu balungi!” Hope sung through the corridor of our guest home in Uganda. Jesus is beautiful. Something I say often, but she learned from Another.
“Jesus …come…” came muffled through the door, overheard by her foster mom. Minutes earlier, Lily’s ears had been introduced to the story of Him. She twirled around and rushed to her room to talk to this Man — made Father for the first time for her.
God’s goodness didn’t start when they entered our home, or even when we first pursued them. He is still Healer, even when the broken places haven’t yet been tangibly mended. He is the perfect Daddy of the fatherless.
Death has no sting.
My story is small compared to that of the woman who left a comment on my blog, months ago, saying she lived her childhood fatherless. Her whole childhood. The Father’s heart breaks for this. It breaks for her. And for me. It breaks.
And then He tenderly promises access.
Sara and her husband, Nate, have been married for nine years and brought home their two children from Ethiopia last year and just recently brought home two more from Uganda! They have a heart for prayer and to see people touched by the love of Jesus. What started as a blog chronicling the ups and downs of adoption has become a passion for Sara. You can read more of her musings on orphans, walking with God through pain and perplexity . . . and spinach juice at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.