Missing in Action

A few days ago, I posted a picture of the Luke’s finger-swipe of butter on another blog.

What I didn’t post was the tears that I shed as I took this picture because it remind me of you.  Actually, he reminds me of you – the unruly hair, the dark chocolate brown eyes, the plump rosy cheeks that just beg to be kissed.  But I digress…

I am only now beginning to “unpack” what happened the night I met with your parents and Bishop F. at the Orem Institute of Religion and then…left you behind.

As I drove out of the parking lot that night, my heart, my mind, my body was screaming at me to turn around, to go back and to get you because you were my daughterbone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.  But the need to be approved of by my priesthood leaders won that night.

I gripped the steering wheel tighter, hunching forward because the ache in my heart and my soul was making it difficult to breathe.  I don’t recall if the oncoming headlights were blurry because of rain on the windshield or my uncontrolled tears. I don’t even remember how I got home that night.

What I do remember was stumbling into the house, into the room you and I shared while we were living with a friend.  I wanted to take your blankets, your clothes, your toys, to cover myself with them and to disappear, as if I had never existed.  In fact, at that moment, I wished I had never existed.  What kind of wretched human being does what I just did?

However, instead of finding your crib, I found emptiness. Instead of finding lacy pink dresses hanging in my closet, I found bare hangers. Instead of bins of toys…just impressions on the carpet.  It felt like I was in a horrible nightmare as I searched frantically for something of yours – where had it all gone?  Just like you, it had disappeared from my life.  A few hours later the family I was staying with came home and told me that they had packed it all up while I had been at the Institute of Religion. They thought it would make it easier for me if I didn’t have any reminders of you.

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. Just floods of tears and sobs that originated in deepest recesses of my soul and body. I don’t know what time it was when I finally collapsed, exhausted, wrung out, and completely defeated. I recall the sky starting to lighten so it had to have been in the earliest hours of the day that sleep finally overtook my grief. When I awoke, the sun was streaming through the southern facing windows,  my eyes were swollen, my voice like sandpaper and my heart forever changed.

I sat up, delicately touched around my eyes, breathed in deeply and then tried to summon the courage to face myself.  My bleary gaze settled on a glass-fronted cabinet in the room and I let out on audible gasp. All over the front of the glass were your tiny, perfect, precious handprints. They covered the glass. I stumbled across the room and fell down in front of the cabinet and pressed my head against the cool glass and traced the outline of your nine-month old hands, begging God to forgive me and pleading that someday, you would forgive me too for what I had done.

So when I saw the Luke’s fingerprint etched into the butter, I was reminded of the morning after I last held you in my arms.   Little fingerprints and hand prints always do that to me and consequently, I have a hard time cleaning them off my walls.  I don’t usually cry over them like I did the butter the other day and while I think God has forgiven me, I have yet to forgive myself.  However, I have come to accept that it is what it is. We are who we are and each of us is so much more than the sum total of our experiences.