Almost Normal

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I found this post in my “Drafts” folder. Written on December 12th, I hadn’t gotten around to posting it. It’s a testimony to the dramatic healing that was taking place in Kalkidan and in our family. We felt “almost normal.” I could weep over not having more time to enjoy this sweet spot (and I do weep over it).  To be honest, I feel ripped off; after all the hard work for  Kalkidan and for us, she’s gone. It still seems impossible. Over and over I remind myself of what is true: God loves her, God loves us, he is good, he is sovereign, he is wise, and his plans are far better than mine.

Some days we feel it. We wake up, look at each other, and there is no fear in our hearts. We don’t dread the start of the day or wonder how we’ll survive. We don’t feel the need to shield our younger ones from a coming storm.

We feel almost normal.

There are many supports in place like planned activities every Saturday. No homework at home – a tutorial class ends each day and allows homework to be completed at school. We sign up for sports, even when it is terribly inconvenient, because it fills hours that would be problematic if left empty. We try not to alter the routine at all – a small change can lead to a significant challenge and frankly, it’s just not worth it.

I try to separate myself from the things that don’t matter, like clothing or hair choices that don’t seem ideal (although we do expect modesty). I keep my expectations about the condition of the bedroom and bathroom low. Cleaning once a week on Saturday is required, but my “clean” and my child’s “clean” are quite a bit different. If a school binder is a mess, I stay out of it and let her teacher deal with it. If she eats Halloween candy rather than the healthy after-school snack I prepared, so be it.

In the grand scheme of learning to live in a family, these things are low on the priority list. Most of all, we want to build on the hard work we’ve all done and continue moving forward.

And that’s as far as I got – I have no idea what else I planned to say, but this seems to sum up what I was thinking in December. We felt “almost normal” and now we don’t feel normal at all. While the world around us carries on, we are still focused on this deep and profound loss. The accident and all that followed still takes a primary place in our minds. There is a time to grieve, and we are in it.

Lisa

 

 

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

30 Comments

  1. Angela Arnett Stone
    February 2, 2015

    I'm grateful you had this period. I also apreciate the feeling of being cheated. Grieve friend. You're loved.

    Reply
  2. Karen NumberTwo Hannaford
    February 2, 2015

    When I first read that you had lost Kalkidan I felt like you had been ripped off too. I couldn't quite believe that God had let this happen and so soon! All that work that you and she had done. All the hard times. Just when it improves, she's gone. But you know, even though it took all of us by surprise (and a pretty nasty surprise I might add), Jesus knew all along what was going to happen. It was no surprise to Him. Kalkidan must have finished running her race. I guess she was a sprinter rather than a long distance runner.
    From the 8th Dec to the 8th January I lost 3 lovely ladies from a support group I am in on FB (the first 3 ever from that group). We lost one of our young homeschool boys – he was 8, had cancer, chemo killed his immune system and he couldn't fight off an infection. Then Kalkidan, and finally I lost my great Aunt. At 93 it's still sad to lose someone, but not that sense of being short changed. The rest have been on my heart and mind a lot. The first young lady's family had bracelets made with her name and 1984-2014 on them. I wear mine all the time and it reminds me of all those lost in that month for me. I often cry. Not for those who have gone, but for the pain their loved ones still feel. So even though my bracelet says Amanda, when I look at it I think Amanda, Bess, Ethan, Sarah, Kalkidan.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 3, 2015

      Such beautiful thoughts, thank you so much, Karen.

      Reply
  3. Mary Ostyn
    February 2, 2015

    Our church family prayed for your family yesterday. And I know that there are many faihtful ladies at our church who pray for prayer requests on a daily basis on their own too. Know that you are being upheld by many whose hearts grieve with yours.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 2, 2015

      I do feel upheld by prayer – thank you, Mary, and thank you to your faithful friends.

      Reply
  4. Chantelle
    February 2, 2015

    (((((((hug)))))))

    Reply
  5. Sarah Gilcrist
    February 2, 2015

    It's like a eddy at the edge of the river or stream…the rest of the world continues on in the current and normal fast flow of the river while you are on the edge in a protected pool of water that is separated from all that is quickly moving by. You and your family are continually in my prayer. May you continue to grieve and heal. May the Lord continue to by your strength and comfort.

    Reply
  6. Jane
    February 2, 2015

    Hi Lisa: I read your blog from time to time. I just want to say that I am profoundly saddened by your loss. I pray for you (and I am just learning how to pray)! I wish you the grace to hang on to those happy memories.
    You can take heart in that you provided a loving family to Kalkidan.
    Best,
    Jane

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 2, 2015

      Jane, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Your prayers are dear to me.

      Reply
  7. Mavis
    February 2, 2015

    We keep praying. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  8. amandacox77
    February 2, 2015

    It feels incredibly unfair that after all of that work there doesn't get to be a normal family life afterall. I'm so so sorry.

    Reply
  9. Lindsey Doolan
    February 2, 2015

    I'm so sorry. I have been and will continue to pray for your family.

    Reply
  10. Jolé
    February 2, 2015

    Thankful for the truth you express amidst the sorrow and disappointments. I'm so thankful that if having to lose her at all that you lost her in a "sweet spot" of almost normal. Thank you for your transparency and we will continue to pray for all of your family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 2, 2015

      Jole, thank you for your prayers. I'm so thankful that we had this sweet spot with Kalkidan.

      Reply
  11. Autumn
    February 2, 2015

    I came across your story from a friend who shared it on facebook. I am so sorry for the devastating loss of your daughter. I can't even imagine and won't pretend I know what you are going through. Your blog has been encouraging to me. Your faith in God, through impossible circumstances, has strengthened my own faith in His provision and timing. I will pray for your family.

    Reply
  12. Bev
    February 2, 2015

    Feeling ripped off exactly describes the first thought I had when I heard of your loss. My theology of what God chooses and what just happens is still evolving, but I am convinced God offers redemption for every hurt we offer. I can't believe that God chose for my children to have trauma come to them, but I can believe that God chose me as part of his plan to redeem their hurt. I so wanted to hear your story of Kalkidan's coming into adulthood healed and healthy. Now I will hear your story of grief, and how God redeems even this pain. I know with my own pain from losses this winter, it helps to know I am loved, and so I hope you also know you are loved and prayed for. You were precious in Kalkidan's life and you are precious in so many other lives, including those of us who have never met you except through your story of being Kalkidan's mother.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 2, 2015

      Bev, thank you for sharing the way you are wrestling with these big questions. I had such a desire to share a beautiful story with all of you and this is not at all the story I wanted to write. This is God's story and we will walk through it with as much hope as we can and with the grace he gives. Thank you for your love and prayers.

      Reply
  13. Laurel
    February 2, 2015

    Continuing to pray for your family. May peace that passes all understanding be yours.

    Reply
  14. Joelle
    February 2, 2015

    I think of you so often. My heart aches for your pain and I wish I could carry some of it for you. The phrase that keeps rolling around in my head and heart is, "Lord, help them to grieve well." Painful as it is I believe the grieving is a necessity to heal. I haven't walked your path but I know the things over the years that I buried rather than openly grieve and I believe the grieving is what allows the healing. I know you already know that but it comforts me to share my heart. Love you dear sister and brother and my precious nieces and nephews.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 2, 2015

      We're all grieving so differently and simultaneously. It's so complicated, but we're holding on to one another. We love you, Joelle.

      Reply
  15. Michelle
    February 2, 2015

    When I heard about Dimples, the tears flowed for your loss followed by that exact feeling for you. My heart went to grieving for you and the huge sacrifice to see her get a chance to truly live. I am learning so much in this journey of surrendering to the hard work of trying to give our kiddos the ability to truly live but not getting to actually define what it all looks like in the end on this earth. I love Bev's note regarding redemption in the pain. Blown away by how God redeems the darkest moments and deepest loss. Your vulnerability is rare and so thankful you continue to be vulnerable. I always catch myself feeling inadequate to write notes to you because you are such an example to me and words fail me, but I need to tell you Kalkidan's life has impacted our life without even knowing her. From the last few years of God using her journey to guide our journey in loving our daughter to just the last month of her story touching the life of a newly diagnosed HIV teen. From the song you shared at the funeral, to sharing her story of healing, to the accident…God is using it in profound ways just in the last few weeks. Please know her life continues to impact those she never met.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 2, 2015

      Michelle, just this morning I found the note you sent when your kids donated their Christmas vacation money to dig a well in Kenya. Thank you for taking a moment to leave a comment and for being part of our family's story. It helps tremendously to know that Kalkidan's life held meaning far beyond our family – I don't want her to be forgotten.

      Reply
  16. Lauren McMurray
    February 2, 2015

    Dear Lisa, such heaviness. Now it almost seems as though the very strategies you used to help Dimples function are sustaining you all. In her life God use her as he prepared you for her death.
    Praying for you all continually.

    Reply
  17. GoldieP
    February 2, 2015

    Lisa, I've been following your blog for about a year, but I don't think I've ever posted before. I'm single and childless, and don't really belong in the community you're creating here. But I just noticed something about this post that I think is cool, and I don't think I've ever heard anybody mention.

    I love the lighting in the photo for this post. Because in the candlelight, at least on my monitor, your skin tone and Kalkidan's look exactly the same.

    I realize that skin tone isn't important in the greater scheme of things. But I like that in this photo there's no chance of it taking on a false importance, because it disappears.

    Reply
  18. Wendy Joy Milligan
    February 3, 2015

    Lisa, I know there's nothing more that I can say that hasn't been said already. But I have been wrestling with God over the loss of kalkidan. Quite frankly, it's a relief to hear you verbalize the feeling of being cheated because that's exactly how I've felt for you. I cried in prayer so often-"but God, they worked so hard for her, invested so much, to have her just snatched away like this." And He gently reminded me that all that was done for kalkidan was done for HIM and HIS glory. It has been a comforting thought to know that He knows she needed more healing than she could be granted on earth, and to trust His mercy. Know that you are prayed for so much and if I was your neighbor, I would so be there to cry with you now,

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 3, 2015

      Wendy, thank you so much for this – such good words. If you were my neighbor we would sip coffee and cry together.

      Reply
  19. Pamela
    February 3, 2015

    My first thought when I read your first paragraph was – "But what a gift to Kalkidan to be able to experience that sense of 'almost normal' while she was still here on earth". I don't say that to diminish your grief or other feelings because I do agree, it seems like you have been ripped off. All that hard work, all the tears, all the hours spent finding and getting her help, and all the hours put in to helping her, and then you finally get to "almost normal" and she is gone. It is heartbreaking, to put it mildly, and probably won't ever make sense to us on this side of heaven. Take your time to grieve and to remember your beautiful daughter. Many of us are thinking of and praying for your family as you walk through this difficult time.

    We have been in the process of getting licensed to do foster care, in hopes of adopting. I have learned much from your blog regarding parenting children from difficult places and have shared your blog with another friend who is also preparing to adopt a child(ren) from foster care. Thank you for sharing your experiences so those of us who are preparing to parent children from difficult places can learn from your experiences and be encouraged by them.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 3, 2015

      We are so thankful for the good months — it's just all swirled together with the sadness. I'll write more about it later, but we feel like the healing we experienced as a family has made our sorrow both deeper and sweeter. Thank you, Pamela.

      Reply
  20. Jeri
    February 4, 2015

    Just want you to know that so many of us still pray for you and your family, every day.

    Reply
  21. Melissa Dunn Corkum
    February 6, 2015

    Thank you for this. We've had a child that's rocked our world like Dimples rocked yours and thinking about losing her just after getting her "back" reduces me to a puddle of tears every time. I cannot imagine walking through just that dynamic alone…not to mention what the rest of your family is going through and your physical healing process. I pray for you often.

    Reply

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