I thought I was ready for today. I was mistaken.
I finally saw my daughter today. I sang worship music all the way to jail and I covered her and myself in prayer but when I entered the parking lot, the chains, the barbed fences, the institutional veneer and the reality stopped me in my tracks.
There's a certain sense of relief walking in to visit despite the fears that try to sneak in. A little pride even tried to sneak in as we sat in the waiting room in our nice clothes and my pretty makeup holding the keys to my less than average car in the parking lot. Addiction has no limit, no standard, no prejudices. I am not above sitting in dirty waiting rooms afraid to use the bathroom. I was there to visit someone I love just as much as everyone else was there to visit someone they loved. I am not exempt. She is not exempt. Addiction happens to every social rung on the ladder no matter where you think yours is and no one is exempt from taking care of their child no matter what the circumstances deliver.
Jail, visitations, funding commissary accounts and accepting collect calls was not something she grew up with. She seems so comfortable. She seems to feel at home. I struggle to understand how this is "normal" to her now.
Our name was called and it was time to finally see our child. Like the movies, we were faced with a cold, steel bench and one telephone handset staring at a see through divider separating us from our beautiful daughter. As she walked in, I couldn't reach her, I couldn't hug her, I couldn't brush the hair out of her eye and kiss her on the cheek. Similar to what a parent must endure as a parent of a preemie visiting the incubator, we could see her but we couldn't touch her, hold her hand, rush in and pick her up to save her. We could only watch and wait.
We made small talk as long as we could. I told her how beautiful her long, blonde wavy hair was. We discussed her striped pants and plastic shoes. My stomach turned into knots as I let my mind wander to how she spends her days. The tears streamed out of her fathers eyes as well as my own. Something in her changed as she saw us cry. She's avoided us for so long as to not see the physical damage, the bags under the eyes, the darkness to our once cheerful dispositions. She couldn't deny that we were hurting. We didn't do it to pile shame on. We didn't cry to manipulate her into admitting she needs help. We cried because we are watching our child behind a pane of glass that separates her and we can't save her.
I will stand by and continue to hear every chain breaking. I will continue to visit. I will continue to hope. I will continue to tell her there's another life, freedom, never ending love from us, laughter, beauty and hope.
For those of you that have done what we did today... the driving away, the realizing the raw reality of their lives... you are stronger than you want to be, braver than you should have to be, but like you, I will continue to be grateful to do it as long as I need to.
As parents to the preemie who finally gets to hold their child and take her home, we will also wait for the day where our visits aren't bound and separated. You see, our child is growing again too. We believe certain life is being breathed into her again. To those of you sending her cards, books and prayers, you are more treasured than you know. We know your time is valuable and your lives are busy but you mean so much to us for doing what you do. She's realizing that her real family never left her.
For today, I believe in my heart that more chains are breaking and she is one step closer to freedom.
I haven't spoken to or see my odlest daughter since July. I've answered more telemarketing calls in the past four months than I care to remember but I answered every single one with great anticipation that one day, it would be her on the other end of the line.
Saturday night, I got my wish. "You have a collect call from Kennedy," I heard, as I literally fell to my knees.
Maybe only moms of addicts know the relief I am talking about when you get the call from jail. No longer do you have to turn on the morning news in fear that you will finally see your child in the headlines.
She was caught. Again. She didn't ask for bail. She didn't ask for commissary money. She asked me to come and visit and she said she loved me. In two days, I, God willing, will finally see her.
Maybe for the first time in over a year, I was able to exhale the deep breaths that I take. For the first time in months, I've slept.
In one of the PAL meetings I led, a participant was sharing a story about her son and she told us that the news she had received earlier in the week from him didn't send her to the penthouse but it didn't send her to the basement. Of course, what she was referring to, was that we used to let every ounce of news, good or bad... dictate our emotions. The rollercoaster ride that we never stood in line to be on would have to wait.
You see, I am relieved that she's in a place where she calls me from daily. I am "happy" that she isn't out there, in the world that entices her. I am also aware of other dangers, of pitfalls, of the courts and the slipping through the systems.
For now, I will take this day, I will take the calls. I will take that I can walk to the mailbox feeling happy with my dogs as I kiss a letter I wrote to her and stick it in the mail slot.
As part of my prayer wall, a portion of Psalms 107 from the Passion Translation has been recited over and over again for months.
God spoke, be healed and she was healed, delivered from deaths gate. For HE smashed through heavy prison doors and shattered steel doors to set her free.
To me, I see this as God breaking IN to meet her where she is. He's not breaking down the doors to set her out of the physical prison she's in but He is breaking in and shattering doors to her heart, to her soul, to redeem and rescue and to send in His angels to sit with her until the next step reveals itself.
Take a deep breath with me, will you? Celebrate the little things while you can. Don't be afraid to hope, to believe, to recite God's promises back and to ask HIM to go and carry our loved one out, carrying them on His shoulders as He did with the lost lamb in Luke.
No matter where you are in your journey with your loved one, remember to find a safe place of refuge daily to pray, to worship, to thank Him for the victory before it happens.
Love, Coach Kim
I won't pretend to excuse this shortcoming of my mom role to the rest of the kiddos that are present and able to pose for the annual family picture... yet I will be real in saying that I stopped sending out Christmas cards. It may not be a big deal to you, but it is something I have purposefully avoided for the past three years.
You see, it made me super happy to have all these creatures God has placed in my life, pose annually in the summer for our upcoming bulk joy send out!
Kennedy has not been with us the last several summers. I have taken lots of individual pictues of the four kids that have been with us. They are slowly noticing that I just can't seem to take a family picture wihout the entire family.
Is anyone else with me on this? I know, I know. I SHOULD take a picture of the six of us, put a stamp on it, address beautiful, sparkly Chirstmas greetings , but in my heart, we aren't whole unless it's the seven of us.
Don't get me wrong, the six of us still stand strong, we are still a family, we are all super worthy of showing our smiles and sending our greetings. They might not understand why I can't; why I won't.
You see, to me, the absence in my action of sending out the cards equals HOPE. To me, sending out the six of us shows defeat, hopelessness. To me it feeels as if I am saying I've forgotten her.
To Ellie, William, Lucas and Owen... will you ever know how important you are? Will you always know I am forever fighting and praying for you just as hard as I am for your sister? Will you remember that when things look different, I am doing the very best that I can? Will you keep praying, keep forgiving, keep laughing, keep remembering in your heart the party of seven that we created seven years ago? You matter, She matters. Family pictures and greeting cards matter. There will be a time when I make all of you hold our hands, fuss a little, grumble a litle more and take shot after shot assuring that I've captured just the right moment... but until then, know I love you. I will see your journeys, I will post your lifes, I will celebrate with you your highs and lows and I will give you my very best.
For Kennedy, come back to us.
For those of you in a similar boat, we are doing the best we can. I hear ya. Celebrate the wonders around you and continue to have Hope for those that aren't.