I accidentally hit “publish” before I made final revisions so sorry to everyone who got the unrevised version!!
Okay, so I’m shamelessly stealing my title from a song by Feist, but it perfectly expresses what our trip has been like so far. The last few days have been amazing and wonderful as well as heartwrenching and exhausting. Our trip began very early on Sunday morning, around 4am to be exact. Or 3:15 if you count when I woke up & couldn’t fall back asleep because of the stress & excitement.
Despite getting up in the middle of the night, we still managed to cut it a little close for our first flight. Who knew the airport would be so crowded at 6 o’clock in the morning? Actually, probably everyone else but us, but I digress.
The first leg of our cross-country journey was Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. From there, we flew to Seattle. Believe it or not, this was my first time west of Missouri. For the record, I’m not a total “yinzer” (slang for someone from Pittsburgh). I’ve been to Europe & the Canary Islands but just never out west.
For the final part of our trip, we took one of those puddle jumpers to the town where DJ’s foster family lives. As soon as we walked out of the tiny airport outside to our rental car, we knew that we weren’t in Pittsburgh anymore. In fact, the differences between our urban neighborhood and DJ’s current hometown became clearer the further we drove away from the airport. It’s not that we hadn’t realized before that DJ was living in a fairly rural area, but I couldn’t help but feel a little bitter that he would have yet another thing to adjust to on top of all of the other major life changes that were rapidly approaching.
I wish that I could say that I remembered exactly how I felt as we drove closer to the house, but honestly, like most of the last 72 hours, it still doesn’t feel real. I know that I was excited and terrified. Would I burst into tears as soon as I saw him & scare him? Would he recognize us as the people who were going to take him away from his loving foster family and friends & hate us on the spot? Would he run & jump into our arms? Would he be just as sweet & cute as he was in his pictures and video?
To be brutally honest, that very first face-to-face meeting was actually a bit anti-climactic. Nobody cried, and nobody jumped into anyone’s arms. But DJ was as sweet & as cute as we thought he would be, and he immediately put us at ease with his shy but eager demeanor.
His very first question was both simple and revealing: “what school am I going to go to?” I think John & I were both relieved to be thrown such a soft ball on our first question. Our answer must’ve satisfied him because he seemed to visibly relax.
I feel like I should confess at this point that I thought that I was fairly prepared–emotionally and mentally–to meet my son in-person, but I was wrong. I could never express both the happiness and the longing that I’ve felt since that first meeting. Immediately, I wanted to be able to take him in my arms and make everything in his world safe and good. I wanted to tell him how much I loved him and how I would do anything for him and that I would always be there for him no matter what.
And at the same time, I understood intrinsically that I couldn’t do any of those things. Yet. That the very best thing thing that I could do for him was to be patient. To trust that someday I’ll be able to hug him tightly and that he’ll know through & through that he is the most amazing gift that we could’ve ever hoped for.