September 12, 2011

Our Day With Ray, Continued

The first part our our day together is here

"Can Ray come to family movie night, Mama?"

"Yes, of course!"

Eddie is the driving force behind our family movie nights, when we pile on the couch together, make a popcorny mess, and watch a kid-friendly flick. He is always excited when once of his (frequent) requests for movie night is granted. We had planned one for that evening, thinking it would be some good down time after the excitement of the beach and seeing Ray. Now Eddie wanted to know if his first dad could join us.

Ray was enthusiastic about the idea, as were we; Eddie was beaming. We made plans to pick up burgers for dinner. He decided to run home to change clothes first after our day at the beach, so we packed up our things and parted ways in the parking lot where we had met that morning.

Eddie, still in his carseat, looked to me for reassurance as Ray walked away. "He's coming to dinner tonight, right?" he asked

"He is, buddy. He's just going home, then he's coming to our hotel and we'll spend more time with him."

Eddie buzzed with happy excitement. We cleaned up the hotel suite a little. Eddie got out his special blanket and stuffed animals and arranged them in the overstuffed chair by the television. We queued up the Netflix movie he picked out. As the time came for Ray to arrive and call to be let in to the complex where we were staying, I saw Eddie--my little boy who normally fights every single bath--take himself into the bathroom on his own initiative to bathe before Ray came.

Todd's cell phone rang. "He's here, buddy!" I called out to Eddie.

Only he wasn't. Something had come up with his mom, he told Todd over the phone. He wouldn't be able to make it.

I felt my heart sink. It would be months before we saw Ray again and Eddie hadn't even gotten to say goodbye.

I was the one to break the news to Eddie, the one who saw every inch of him crumple. Hugging him on the bedroom floor as he wailed, I looked over his back at Todd. "Get Ray on the phone. Now."

Ray and Eddie had a brief conversation that would break your heart. The chance to at least say good bye, to say I miss you, didn't make the disappointment less, but it was something. We cuddled as he cried some more and then quieted down a little. We moved out to the front room and Eddie curled up with his blankie in an armchair while I sat on the floor at his feet, rubbing his back.

Eddie is just five years old. The quintessential oldest child, he has a definite way he wants things to be and often does not get his way, in additional to the regular disappointments that crop up in a child's life. He's disappointed a lot in the course of the day. We've witnessed how he processes being let down, have learned how to come alongside him and what seems to comfort him. This time was...different. The sorts of reflective things that normally help him regain his emotional footing ("You were really looking forward to tonight. I was, too. It is so sad and disappointing that Ray can't come. You don't see him often and when he went back to his car you didn't even get to give him a hug.") had helped some, but he was still troubled.  We sat without speaking for awhile, Eddie curled into himself, sad and unsettled.

Something told me maybe this was about something bigger. Not just sadness about cancelled plans with someone very special, but about the way things are.

"I bet it's hard to live so far away from your birth dad," I said into the quiet. The response--it was immediate, it was powerful. Like a water breaking through a dam. Eddie fell on me with huge, gulping, visceral sobs. We clung together for a few minutes like that.

And then it was over. I felt his entire body release as he sat up on my lap and said, "I want to watch the movie now." The sadness not over or resolved or behind him (how could something so big be), but back in his grasp enough for that moment that he could relax into the couch with us and laugh at a favorite movie.


luna said...

oh, this breaks my heart. poor eddie. your description is so vivid.

marveling at how you handled it and grateful that you continue to share your wisdom end experience. such a journey, this is.

Carlea said...

My heart breaks for Eddie. Not sure how you held yourself together through that, considering I'm having to scrape myself off the floor after just reading about it. Poor little fella.

Oh how we love our children. And oh, how we wish we would have never had to meet them.

MrsH said...

Aww, that is so heartbreaking. I'm impressed with how you handled it without expressing any judgmental or angry feelings about his birthdad. Having been in your shoes many times now, comforting a child after being let down by a birth parent, I know how much I personally struggle with my impulse at anger and indignation. I'm glad Eddie has such loving support from you.

susiebook said...

Poor little guy. He's lucky to have a mom who can help him process this stuff.

Monika said...

As a first mom, I know all too well the ache of living "far away." Your words brought tears to my eyes. I ache for both Ray and Eddie. "Goodbyes" or "see you laters" help so much (and my daughter is not yet 2) in the processing of the natural grief that comes with ANY separation (not just in adoption, but in other kinds as well). Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so transparent about your struggles and triumphs as a parent. It helps me so much to be able to see both sides.

Anonymous said...

I am thankful that Eddie has you. At five-years-old, sometimes emotions are so hard to process.

mama2roo said...

So much struggle and heartache involved in all of this isn't there? Sending Eddie a great big love hug right now...and you too.

BumbersBumblings said...

wow, many tears over this one. Our little guy is 2.5 and I can't imagine the heartache that this would cause. What an amazing momma you are to work to break through that barrier.

Sue said...

This just broke my heart.

Heather said...

@luna, @Mrs H @susiebook, @Monika, @makingmonkeysoup, @Mama2roo, @Bumber's Bumblings - Thanks, friends.

@Carlea - "Oh how we love our children. And oh, how we wish we would have never had to meet them."

This, exactly.

@Sue - "This just broke my heart."

Mine, too.

Kristin said...

Thank you for sharing this story. As I've said before, I have learned so much by how you've handled so many things in your open adoptions.

I couldn't comment the first time I read this; it just made me too emotional. I hurt for Eddie, of course, and for you and for Ray, but also for my son, who although he may be too young to realize it exactly, is missing his first mom.

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