Pieces of Process

by Maria Theresa Maggi on September 6, 2021

The emptiness that engulfs my family now that my foster grand baby has been returned to their birth mom is like nothing else I have ever experienced. It has been nearly two months now, and so far birth mom has only responded minimally to emails and has not responded to any requests for visits, in person or virtual. The baby we love and cherish as part of our family is out of our reach. Our hearts are broken. I also mourn that this refusal signals a kind of “recovery” couched in defensiveness and fear. And I worry about how that will play out.

In the meantime, I sing to my foster grand baby’s spirit. I gather shells and bright agates on the beach for them. I have fashioned a night light for them should their spirit travel in dreamtime back to where we sang and rocked and played. I tell them how much I love them and that I hope they are having a good day with their birth mom.

As I wrote at the end of my post, Becoming an Agate, “Holding this agate-in-progress in my hand reminds me to be patient with this mysterious work, that transformation can be slow and painful, or swift and unpredictable, but it is also inevitable. Somehow, though still encased in rough opacity, the light found that agate-to-be and made it shine from within. There will be another side to where we are now, even if I don’t know what it is or when it’s going to arrive. But in the meantime this humble rock reminds me to notice the way the light is getting in and shining through. . .”

Found beach glass and rock with scars and layers of time

I take hope from what surprises me out of my pain and lifts my spirit, even for a second: dandelions and their bright yellow flowers opening for a few hours in the dead gray grass, then gradually turning to wishes scattered across the air.

“Dandelions Blooming on Dry Grass” chalk pastel memory sketch by Maria Theresa Maggi

The other day I read Gena Hamshaw’s latest edition of Weekend Reading over at her blog The Full Helping. She has been struggling with meeting a deadline for her next cookbook manuscript and wrote honestly and eloquently about having to turn it in with many places marked “TK,” which, I learned, in the editing business means, “to come.” In the context of her situation, she talked about accepting her frustration that this is the way she needed to turn it in, and also coming to acceptance of this as a practical reality and letting it be okay, it sounded like, for the first time ever.

That simple shorthand, “TK,” when I applied it to my situation, hit me entirely differently. It gave me a hopeful marker for so much of the emptiness I feel everywhere I turn. There is something, or someone “to come.” Perhaps someday another child to love. Perhaps a visit with the one we miss so terribly. Or good news about how well they’re doing. But just whispering that phrase “to come” into these empty spaces makes me ever so much more likely to want to stick around and see what is “to come.” It reminds me that in the depths of despair as a young woman I knew I did not want to end my life because, at bottom, I was curious to see how it was all going to turn out. So thank you, Gena, for that shorthand.  Sometimes we give each other miracles we aren’t even aware of.  I so appreciate the blessing of “to come.”

In the meantime, Cotton and I enjoy the last warm late afternoons as we head toward Fall, while the earth is still warm enough to sit on, despite being so terribly dry, so I can literally “ground.” Here we are, as we often are, looking out at the sun shining on the ocean, letting the earth take some of the sadness and release it into momentary wonder.

Maria (moonwatcher)

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cathy September 6, 2021 at 11:50 am

Thank you for the update Maria. This sounds so hard. 🙁 Hug to you. I didn’t know what “TK” meant. I hope little baby comes back to you all. xoxo C

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2 Maria Theresa Maggi September 6, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Thank you Cathy–I’m so glad for your hug! I hope you don’t mind, your comment reminded me to use a neutral pronoun, so I went back and edited my post and also edited your comment to reflect that. love you xoxo

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3 Debra Maslov September 7, 2021 at 7:17 am

My thoughts go out to you & your family at this time of deep grief, Maria. Your spirituality will be the greatest tool in dealing with such an unfair situation. As will your beautiful & healing artwork. Thank you for sharing your amazing life with us all – the ups & the downs.

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4 Maria Theresa Maggi September 7, 2021 at 10:28 am

Thank you so much, Debra–your kind words mean a lot to me.

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5 Margaret Evans September 7, 2021 at 8:33 am

love, always

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6 Maria Theresa Maggi September 7, 2021 at 10:28 am

Thanks so much Marge–love back xo

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7 Gena September 9, 2021 at 3:43 pm

I couldn’t have summarized my experience with the TK-laden manuscript any better, Maria! And I personally loved your recollection that, as a young person, you knew you didn’t want to end your life because you wanted to see how it would turn out. Depression turns off that curiosity for me, but by now I’ve accumulated a bank of memories that serves as evidence that things change and life can keep surprising me. I’ll reread those words of yours when I need them one day.

I’m so, so very glad that “TK” struck a hopeful note in your heart. I know how hard it is to find hope in those moments of profound grief. I hope that small pieces of hope and peace will continue to find you—that they’re all TK.

Sending you much love.

G xo

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8 Maria Theresa Maggi September 12, 2021 at 3:06 pm

Thank you so much, Gena, from the bottom of my heart–for writing the post you did last weekend which gave me hope and helped me write this one, and for this comment here and all that’s in it as well. It’s truly a gift how our writing and memories help shore each of us up. I’m honored my words help you as well, Dear Friend. Here’s to the good things “TK.” Love you xo

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9 Veronica September 13, 2021 at 11:15 am

I’m so very sorry about being unable to connect with the baby. I truly hope they’re doing well with their birth mom, though I’m saddened it’s come at the cost of your and your family’s heartbreak. I like how you’ve expanded “TK” into everyday life, and injected a bit of hope into the future. Thinking of you and sending love. xoxo

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