Three years ago today my brothers were taken into state custody via CPS and four police officers. It was a shocking, traumatic experience that fortunately my mom did not have to deal with alone, as she and my brothers were at my house that day; but unfortunately Alyssa and Ryan had to witness, as of course they were here, too. I’m hoping they have little or perhaps no memory of that day, since three years ago puts them at not-quite-four years and two years of age — hopefully too young to have filed that memory away or be able to recall it.
Today, in contrast, Puff is with Dan and I, and my youngest brother is still with my mom. While Puff is technically in the state’s custody (legal), he has been placed with us (how weird is it that I, his sister, am also his foster mother; and Dan, his brother-in-law, is also his foster father? What does that make Alyssa and Ryan, his niece and nephew – his foster siblings?), so for all intents and purposes he’s with us. Period.
Coincidentally, today we all went to a local church for their 10:30am worship service, which was followed by a pig roast and huge outdoor luncheon at noon. The pastor, M, has known my family since 2002, when my mom first started attending his church, back when M and the group (followers? worshipers?) were a part of a bigger church. M has been with us through a lot. It was M’s wife that took me out to dinner and to a local pregnancy crisis center when I confided in her that I was pregnant with Alyssa – before I had even told my mom or Dan. She was the one who offered to let me stay with them when my mom flipped her shit when I told her I was pregnant with Alyssa. It was M and several church elders and their sons who helped my grandparents frantically pack up a three story, three bedroom house and detached garage when they needed to move. It was M who came to see us and comfort us in the hospital when my grandmother was dying, and M who spoke at my grandmother’s funeral. It was M again who came to see us and comfort us in the hospital and again in hospice when my grandfather was dying, and he also spoke at my grandfather’s funeral.
While I have not gone to church regularly since I was a child (I don’t know why. I believe in God, and I was raised Catholic. I just… I don’t know. Church is not my thing, I guess.), I have tried to keep in semi-regular contact with M. Throughout the past several years he has known of course what has gone on with my mother, my brothers and CPS. I emailed him a few months ago to ask his advice on everything that was going on with my mom while she was living with us. One thing he said struck me then, and it still sticks in my mind (emphasis is mine):
I know this is hard… but sometimes we must make the hard call. Your first responsibility is to your husband and your children. I’m not
telling you what to do… but rather I’m attempting to empower you to do what you need to do. Don’t do anything in haste but do what you must do.
That email came on May 11th, about three and a half weeks before a lot of nastiness and hatefulness transpired and I did what I needed to do. But it was hard. Damn hard. I don’t regret it, and I know I did the right thing, but it was still hard today, and even today I’m sometimes hard on myself for doing that right thing.
Anyway, M is really a wonderful person, and he is not preachy, though he very strongly believes in God (obviously). I respect and look up to him, and feel close to him because of all that he has done for my family, as well as me. So when I emailed him to update him on what transpired over the summer, and to let him know that Puff was okay and living with us, he replied with an invitation to a Celebrate Adoption/Fostering event that the church was having today.
The service was definitely moving, and I’m glad we went. I know Puff felt shy and perhaps a little embarrassed to be there, but I’d like to think he enjoyed himself. The luncheon was awesome. Alyssa decided that she liked pulled pork, and the whole congregation (about 150 people) decided they liked my Slow Cooker Taco Soup (I made a quadruple batch with extra diced green chilis and southwest tomatoes, but can you believe I forgot the corn!? That’s what I get for cooking at 11:00pm.) – the crockpot was half empty by the time about a third of the congregation went through the food line, and when I picked up the crockpot after the luncheon was over it was scraped clean. :D
It was only this evening, after Puff and I spent about an hour outside doing yard work (who’d have thought that he actually enjoys mowing the lawn? He even mowed our next door neighbor’s lawn!) that I realized today was September 18th. What a difference between today and this day three years ago. :)