The massage therapist knowingly nodded, and said several of her clients complained of similar symptoms. “The body remembers,” she continued, “even long after the triggers are gone”–which is what baffled me. When I went to her, the week after Christmas, I should have been a model of health and tranquility. I had started working out at least three times a week, had no major deadlines or responsibilities, and the things that had me so stressed out were months behind me, or at least at the point where I’d done everything I could to make things right and had no personal regrets. I had wholeheartedly resigned my fate to a higher power, feeling certain that not only what will be will be, but will be for the best. Yet I still had trouble taking in a good deep cleansing breath. I was hoping she could rub out some of the knots in my back that seemed to be blocking the air from fully reaching and filling every bit of my lungs.
Hosting foster children is something we had thought about doing for a long time. Big Daddy seemed to be more apprehensive about it because he was worried we might become attached to a child that we would have to give back. I was less worried about that because I expected from the start that it would be temporary and was OK with that. I only wanted to be a safe port in a child’s stormy life until things calmed down. In fact, I like temporary arrangements. I love my two-month a year job. I prefer open-ended contracts. I figured we’d provide some fun for a child that needed to laugh and then he or she would return home after a few months. I had no way of knowing how challenging and unpredictable this choice would be.
We had planned, and splurged, on renting the beach house in July. One of the reasons was so the girls could see the ocean. But all along, we never knew for sure if we would still have them by the time July rolled around. We hoped…but that is the nature of foster care. We rented a house that slept 8 just in case, though, figuring we wouldn’t have much trouble filling up the extra beds if something happened. Then J came home with his horribly crushed leg…and with only a couple of weeks to go, we faced the possibility that none of us would be going on vacation. We spent days keeping his leg iced, helping him with everyday life, and watching helplessly while he dealt with pain that even his prescription pain killers couldn’t dull. The girls were so sweet, tiptoeing around quietly and trying to help by making ice packs and bringing him water.
Although we had to watch for what could have been gruesome developments, J’s leg seemed to be improving enough that we decided to make the long drive to North Carolina. J stretched out in our old van that we luckily never sold while Youngest Son did the driving. J’s girlfriend and my 15-year-old niece rode along with them. Big Daddy and I took the girls with us in the SUV and we kind of followed each other. We had a great time there–even though Big Daddy had to lose a full day at the beach shopping around for a competent repair guy–miles from the little island we were staying–to replace the muffler that had decided to fall off the van two days before we had to leave. Meanwhile, Youngest Son had been struggling all week, long distance, to find out why his car was still sitting untouched and unrepaired back home when he had left it a week ago. They still hadn’t gotten the part they needed and Youngest Son was stressing big time about having to start med school in less than a week with no car to get him there! All of these annoyances were quickly forgotten, however, when Big Daddy took a call on his cell phone the night we were packing up to leave for home. The guy that was watching our beautiful 7-year-old Boxer dog, Sky, called to tell us that he was rushing her to the animal hospital with what appeared to be Bloat, which is a twisting of the dog’s stomach and which we knew immediately was a very bad thing. We waited teary-eyed and in stunned silence for further news, and our worst fears were confirmed when he called to say she hadn’t made it after suffering from two heart attacks, one while en route, and the other at the hospital.