Six years later, I feel the aftershocks of the helplessness I felt then. It’s been triggered in the past couple of months with local uncertainties and tragedies: deaths, cancer diagnoses, and looking for new employment. Uncertainty and powerlessness are thick as the pollen in the air.
I can either be despondent – retreat from the world – or I can be motivated to do what I can.
Today, on the blog of a friend who is going through a very difficult year, I started to write how my 4 year old daughter looked at me, her mouth open, cheeks dripping from tears, when I had to explain that she wouldn’t live with me anymore.
I was supposed to be the big strong mommy who could do anything. I let her down.
When the state showed up in a big state van to take her and her siblings away, I met with the social worker, and gave them the information I collected together to make sure their next parents got the best start they could.
My face hurt from not crying, and my chest burned where I refused it sobbing.
Her brother and sisters were already on the van, and she loitered to be the last one I hugged. She spread her hands, open and empty, and said she had nothing to give me, and she cried. She squatted down next to the driveway where we put the garbage cans once a week, and picked up a rock.
It was a present for me, she said, and she put it in my hand. A present so I wouldn’t forget her.
That little stone – black, with spraypaint on one side – reminds me not only of her, but of her continued helplessness inside the foster care system. As of this writing, she should be 10 years old.
So what do I have power over? What can I help?
When I am afraid, I can write in my blog about using fear as motivation – motivation to take control over the healthiest things I do.
I can also write stories. When I write garbage, I can edit. When I am rejected, I can resubmit.
When I’m tired of writing, these days I can knit, sculpt, search for a new job, make dinner, and go to bed.
Sometimes, every once in a while, I even bake cake.