Someone stop me. Now.
I am doing it again.
I am buying way too many gifts for Poppy, just like I have done every year at Christmas time since she was born. Last Christmas was the first time I was truly cognizant of it, but really did not quite grasp why I was doing it. I just know I *totally* blew the budget.
This year I have figured out why I do this and it is alum to my soul.
It is over-compensation, plain and simple, driven by the subconscious need to make up for all the Christmases I did not have with Ms. Feverfew.
I wish someone had told me 22 years ago that not only would I lose my oldest daughter to adoption, but I would lose the ability to fully enjoy another holiday season to adoption, too, that it would steal precious moments with my other children from me like a thief. I wish someone had told me that the losses would compound and grow as the years unfolded. I wish Bishop Felix or someone who knew would have told me this gets harder, not easier, as the years go by. My ability to withstand the grief has grown, too, but some days. . . some days like today when I was standing in the girl’s clothing section at Kohls with Poppy at my side ooohing and aaahing over the sparkly Hello Kitty purses, it hits me and my heart tightens and it’s hard to breathe.
I will never get the chance to stand next to a 4-year old Ms. Feverfew in Kohls as she delights in the purse selection and talks me in to buying one for her.
It is never more obvious Ms. Feverfew is missing from our family than when we are together on Christmas morning as Matthew, Luke, and Poppy dig into their stockings. Always, always, always, there is the unspoken Truth that lingers in the air between my boys and me. Their oldest sister is not there. I can see it in the flicker of their eyes when we are talking about extended family members who are enjoying Christmas morning, too. It’s a look between them, a feint of the eyes towards me, and slight shake of the head that Matthew gives to Luke, almost as if to tell him, “Not now, little brother. This isn’t the time to ask Mom about Ms. Feverfew.”
Actually, that is not the entire truth of the matter.
It is obvious she is missing every time we sit down to eat dinner together. We have a table that seats six. There is always an empty seat. Our vehicle seats six. There is always an empty seat.
It is that empty seat driving my behavior towards Poppy when it comes to gift buying.
My question is now that I am conscious of how I am overcompensating, what do I do to stop myself? I’m trying to be more mindful of my actions and working very hard to be present in the here and now, not the what-could-have-been ghost of years gone by, but it is a tenuous walk right now. Someone please tell me this gets easier as time goes on, that it gets easier to raise my sweet Poppy, that eventually the ghost of her lost-to-adoption-sister will stop shadowing the joy I have with this amazing creature who came into my life four years ago.
Does this part of adoption get easier?