Dominick and I are back home after our trip to Denver to visit the CIS office to file our immigration papers for the adoption and to get our fingerprints done one more time for the FBI. We had an 11 hour round trip drive for what ended up being 45 minutes of work. However, making that drive shaves weeks off the process, so it was well worth it. We are close to being finished with our dossier and look forward to sending it off to the agency in a couple of weeks, if all goes well.
During our long drive Dominick and I had the first time to visit uninterrupted in a very long time. Fall has really "fallen" here, and the splendor of magnificent color all around us as the aspens change to startling yellows and reds is breathtaking. We took the "back road" highway home going over Monarch pass which is pines and aspens as far as the eye can see, with crisp blue skies overhead it was nearly perfect. Each of us expressed how glad we were that we made the decision 12 years ago to leave it all behind in Southern California and take a risk on moving out here to start a new life. I can not imagine living anywhere else, this place fills our souls in a way nowhere else ever could. We saw antelope and deer along the way yesterday, and the abundance of wildlife is something I still recall being startled by during our first year or two here. I can remember on only one occasion seeing deer during my first 30 years of life before moving here, and now I have seen wildlife the likes of which most people never see in their true habitat. Bald eagles in the early morning winter sunlight proudly perched upon a barren tree branch, Big Horn sheep skittering nimbly along the mountainside, majestic elk...two words which really do belong together...grazing as the snow covered Rocky Mountains serve as their backdrop. I am so glad we still don't take it for granted, every day here is a gift.
We also talked a lot about our future family and what it will be like, what it will look like, what problems might arise, what blessings may be bestowed. I asked Dominick how he really and truly felt about being the daddy to little girls, as it has been the long running joke that he and the boys have convinced me every time to adopt boys instead of anyone of the female persuasion. Anyone who knows me at all knew there wasn't really any convincing going on as I LOVE boys and enjoy them immensely. When asked if he was honestly excited about it, the smile on his face couldn't have been wider as he replied that he sure was.
The conversation flowed intermittently during the drive, with both of us lost in our own thoughts, then pausing from our reverie to give voice to what was being mulled about in our minds. As we spoke about how quickly the boys are growing up, how we have no "little ones" anymore, I was for the first time really struck by how much I personally will have missed of our children's lives, how much "baby time" I never really got to experience. Dominick is perhaps the single only other person who understands what I mean when we talk about how I missed out on Joshie's babyhood. The struggles were so overwhelming and his rejection so staggering, that it was as if his infancy and toddlerhood flew by in a rage, and then pre-school age was suddenly upon us and peace settled in. Having missed the first year of life for both Matthew and Joshua, and then having a giant 8 year old come home in the shape of Kenny, I will eventually find myself the mother of 5 who really only parented an infant for a few short months. I have never really felt a strong sense of loss over that until yesterday, a pang hit me when I allowed myself to take in for just a moment all that will have been missed. Dominick too was quite introspective about that, he understands that he too will miss cradling his daughters in his arms as he did Matthew and Josh, that Kenny was never tossed up in the air as a tiny little guy as the other boys loved so much. When we hold our friends little girl a mere few months old, I think we both relish it as we never got enough of it when it was our turn. It was almost like a tease, where you experience enough to know what you are missing versus never having had it at all and not really knowing just how sweet it is to rock your droopy child to sleep, or to see their toothless grins as they gurgle and splash in their bath when they are so little that water is an inexplicable mystery.
We both remained quiet for a few moments as we let it all sit there with us, and then as if of one mind a smile crept on our faces as we both talked about all we have now, and all we will have in the future despite what has been missed. I said to Dominick "If I had to do without all of that to have what we have today it was worth it completely." for what we have is wonderful beyond description, we have very unique and thoughtful sons whose lives have formed them into the boys they are today...and us into the parents we are as well. We are a family like no other, this mismatched ever-expanding bunch!
And when our new ones finally join us, they will come to us in larger bodies having been knocked around by life quite a bit and having a history that might not ever be fully known to us. They will not smell of baby lotion and won't grab onto my hair with chubby little fists as I stand with them resting upon my hip. They will come with habits and impressions and fears not understood by us, they will be puzzles which might always have a missing piece here or there. But something tells me that the pieces we will get to share will somehow all be put together in order and will leave us with a pretty good impression of who they are. Some of those missing pieces just might be found and put into place by us, some will be lost forever. When all is said and done though, what we will all be thinking of when we look at the finished project is not what is missing, but what remains which tells a story of its own as we stand back and marvel at the beauty of that completed puzzle.
I, for one, am betting that our family puzzle will look as beautiful as a Monet when the last pieces are gently put in place. A piece may be missing here or there, but I doubt any of the 7 of us will long for those missing pieces too much, for we will be too busy looking at the end result to worry too much about what is not there...we will be seeing all that remains.