Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)
TITLE: Letters to Mom
By Niki Tschirgi
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Of course I could help him. That’s what mama’s do. He was writing a letter to Andrew and he needed my help, with every word. My son is in kindergarten so he knows his letters just not how to put them together to make any sort of sense.
Today he was sad. He missed Andrew and I suggested he write to him or color a picture. We had just moved across the nation from Washington State to Texas and he was sorely missing his friends. Andrew wasn’t just anybody though. Andrew was our foster son for 18 months before we left. Andrew was like his brother.
I M-I-S-S Y-O-U. C-O-M-E V-I-S-I-T S-O-O-N. I spelled it all out for him. When you become a foster parent you are slightly unaware of what that means for the rest of your family. Oh sure people tell you but you’ve got to live it to know it. I should’ve known but hadn’t realized that my children would be welcoming in brothers and sisters and then they would be required to say goodbye. My oldest was only three when Andrew came to live with us and our youngest had just turned one. You do your best to explain to them in terms they can understand that they won’t be here forever and some day they will have to say goodbye to these foster brothers and sisters. They nod their head at you obediently as if they truly understand and then run off to play. Their understanding comes to full fruition when their “brother” or “sister” leaves for good to go home or to another family for adoption. That’s when they truly get it. My son was certainly still grieving over the loss of his sibling.
As my son sat their writing his thoughts with his tongue in the corner of his mouth I began to think back to the days we had with Andrew. He came to live with us kind of unexpectedly. We had just brought home Charles three months earlier to adopt and then we got a call for a six year old boy. Could we take him? It would be for about six months. Could we do it? After much thought and prayer the deal was done. He came to live with us immediately and for Charles and little Alan they had a new “brother”.
The plan for Andrew was to go home. We soon became aware that our “six month” roller coaster ride had just begun. Mom was a drug addict and he had a little sister in care too. She really wanted to get clean. She did. But she was stuck in a vicious cycle of treatment and then relapse as she came triumphantly out of rehabilitation straight to the wolves, her family that was still using. She was doomed to fail. She didn’t have a chance as long as she hung out with old friends and her family. The only people she had.
So it was us who sat him down after eighteen months and looked into his searching eyes to tell him that his mom hadn’t gotten better and he would not be going home. We were the ones who had to explain to him over the months why mom missed visits and didn’t show up on his birthday. We were the ones who had to hug him and hold him when she forgot to call because she was on a several day drug binge. We were the ones who helped him write letters to his mom wondering why she didn’t call. Why she didn’t make her visit. Why wasn’t she getting better? But most importantly, we were the ones who helped him write “I L-O-V-E-Y-O-U” no matter what she did. Because no matter what, she was still his mom. It didn’t matter how many times she failed or forgot or gave into her addictions. He still loved her. He still wanted to see her. He still wanted to be with her. She still loved him.
My son gently laid his hand on my arm shaking me out of my thoughtful gaze. He had another question for me. So there with my son just as I had did so many times with Andrew I spelled the words “I L-O-V-E- Y-O-U”. And with that he happily folded his letter and licked it shut. He carefully placed the stamp in the corner and I addressed the envelope with care. I knew he couldn’t wait to deposit it in the mail box so as I shut out the lights and opened the door, I remembered once again our dear little Andrew and his letters to mom.
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