adoption, family

Dumb Mistake

I made the dumb mistake of attempting to clean out our memory drawer. For the last 5 years I’ve gathered a variety of mementos from my children. One drawer in our dining room buffet is stuffed with old school papers, art projects and letters. It has been bursting with treasures and trash for years.

I’ve been a little more mobile lately and thought I could sit down on the floor and sort through things. Some kind of cleaning bug has gotten into me this past week. I put away the Christmas decorations and now I can’t stop!

It was a dumb mistake. At first I lovingly sorted through birthday cards and letters that the kids made for us. I found some old photos and A+ tests. It was sweet to revisit how far these kiddos have come. My heart warmed when I saw a picture Marcus made for Mary during her first hospitalization in 2014.

Then I pulled out what felt like a deck of cards. It was actually a little book Sean made for me on Mother’s Day. The title is “52 Things I Love About You.” He took an entire deck of cards and glued printed statements on each one. The are connected with rings to make a flip-book.

I should have put it down but I didn’t. I read it. The book has boiler plate things to love such as “your smile” and “your hugs.” It also has some gems that are specific to me. “I love the way you sneeze twice and the second one is serious.” Some of it made me sad because he loved me for reasons like I provided food and bought his clothes.

I put it away but for whatever reason I couldn’t stop with that. There isn’t much of Sean left in this house. I reached behind the books in our bookcase to get the memory box we all made in 2015. I keep it hidden from myself.

Sean’s handwriting stared back at me on little colored scraps of paper. The things he enjoyed the first year home included, “The Worry Wall,” “The Cool-Down Corner,” “tuck-ins at bedtime,” “family dinner” and “being safe with big feelings.”

I crammed the pieces of paper back into the memory box through a haze of fresh tears. Still, I could not stop this car from wildly careening down memory lane. Urgently (and for no good reason) I went upstairs and dug into the filing cabinet until I pulled out Sean’s folder. It was a dumb mistake. Clearly I had no idea how much this would affect me.

There isn’t much there. A few report cards, a journal article he wrote about family titled, “The F Word,” and the report. The last thing I looked at was the meeting summary from his DCF report.

The horrible lies blurred on the paper as I cried. In it he accused me of abusing him physically and described never wanting to see us again. Those vile hurtful words swam in front of my eyes until I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. Had anything ever been real with him? How could the little book of love and those despicable statements have come from the same child?

I promptly ran into the bathroom and vomited the contents of my stomach.

Apparently this still hurts. Perhaps it always will.

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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17 thoughts on “Dumb Mistake

  1. C says:

    Oh the rabbit holes we find and once we start to fall there is no turning back and the climb out is even worse. I can’t say if anything was ever real but that black and white thinking and behavior is a symptom. You must know that. Maybe he was on his way down his own rabbit hole and still could’t find the way to be a family on the way out and there were other people and factors influencing him. You both tried very hard. I think one day you will get closure on this. I think one day you two will connect.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beth says:

    I’m so so sorry. I still remember packing up our younger daughter’s room and how painful it was. Those boxes are all in our basement in case she wants them someday. I can’t imagine opening them and looking through the artifacts of the family relationship we tried (and failed) to have with her. This isn’t a kind of loss that society has a script for or knows how to recognize. It is a huge loss though and in a way like a death – the child you thought you had, and the relationship you hoped to have, is gone.

    Big hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sorry. Thank you for always sharing , even when things feel terrible. I wouldn’t say it was a dumb mistake to look at Sean’s things; it sounded like a very honest human moment to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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