Two weeks ago your baby turned three. We had such a fun day celebrating her. She beamed when she awoke and found her playroom covered in streamers and balloons. She belly laughed with excitement when we sang “Happy Birthday to you…” She squealed with delight repeating over and over “for me..??” with each little gift she opened. We told her about birthdays and she had imagined in her head what hers would be like. We knew we had high expectations to fill for her. I think we did well and met every single one her little heart desired.
I was sad on that day too, though. I thought about you often. I wondered what you were thinking and knew I could not even imagine the heartache you must have been feeling knowing you could not enjoy her day with her. My heart ached for you too. I thought a lot about your last words to me…“you are not her mother, you will never be her mother!!” I thought about the countless times you have blamed me for your failures and accused me of stealing your only child. I felt guilty beyond measure and I hurt for you and your loss.
I miss you, baby sister. You were my best friend. I’ve missed you since the day you ran away from home 22 years ago. I cried for you in my bed when no one knew where you were for weeks on end. I cried again a year later when I visited you for the first time in rehab. Our conversation was awkward. I didn’t know what to say or how to help you, I was hurting too. I just didn’t know what we had gone through wasn’t normal. I didn’t know what we did together ourselves was wrong. We were just little girls. I didn’t know I was supposed to protect you. All I knew for sure was that I wanted you back.
Throughout the years you also broke my heart. You made promises and didn’t keep them. I tried to let you know how special you were to me and how much I wanted you in my life. I was disappointed when you ran away again and bailed on attending my first daughter’s baptism. I had chosen you to be her Godmother. I had to find someone else to stand in at the very last second when you never came. Why did you do that? I eventually became used to you not showing up, though. I expected it. I even empathized with you and was proud of your self awareness to not be around my family when you were in no condition to be an example to my children. It still made me sad, though. I always thought you’d be the perfect “cool Aunt.”
Your addictions have taken you over. Drugs and alcohol have become your best friends now and your way to cope with your pain. You seem to have no control anymore. In some ways, I can relate to this. I feel crazy and out of control everyday. I wish I could tell you why and I wish you could tell me your story too. You blame me for ruining your life. You blame “the system” for setting you up to fail. We all tried so hard to help you. I hoped this baby of yours would be a turning point for you. You were so excited and I know you loved her. You were so proud of her, always asking me “what do you think of her..?” But she wasn’t enough motivation for you.
I wish you would stop letting her Dad beat you and abuse you. I wish you would run away. I know your choice to leave is so hard. You are far too deep in a hole to do it yourself and you can’t find the strength to stay away. I understand completely. I want to leave too but I too am scared. You think I am perfect and you resent the life I now have. I know that makes you angry. But, I’m just like you…stuck in a world so tangled and dark that I cannot see how it could possibly be any better or different. It has sucked me in too. I’m just better at hiding it. I cope alone in secret.
I want you to know I love you. I want you to know that your baby is safe with me. I know my life is full of crap like yours. It’s different crap, but it’s there, and I won’t let it get in the way of her flourishing in life. I know I fought to adopt her out of foster care against your wishes, even with all this crap…if you only knew how counterintuitive it felt. I know you wanted her to stay with Mom and Dad so she wasn’t so far away from you. But I know things about them that I don’t think you remember. I’m just beginning to remember myself and realize we were not ok. They are not the god’s they make themselves out to be. They were awful to us. They still are. I don’t want one more child to have to endure what I, and maybe you, did. I blame them for your addictions and your pain sometimes. I couldn’t let it happen again. Not to your baby. No way. She’s a little shining star and so, so sweet.
I will fiercely protect her. I will love her like we never were. Whatever path my life takes in the coming years, I will put her needs first before mine. I will fight every battle for and with her. I will always let her know that she matters and is loved because I know that that is what we both so deeply desire ourselves. I am praying for you. I did not steal your baby. Someday I hope you will understand that I saved her.