I took this picture in November 2008, 5 months after we met. Raven was fascinated with the fact that George came from the Yakima shelter – he felt like that was their big bond. Two lost boys. George was 3 here to Raven’s 8. I remember buying him this coat because he didn’t have a good one for the winter that could handle his outdoor habits.
I had no idea at the time that I would end up getting my foster parent license twice to bring Raven home. I had no idea that in the years that would pass, being his mother would teach me to love unconditionally, to believe anything was possible and to realize that to take care of him, I would need to learn to take care of me. I didn’t know that being his mother would make me closer to my own. I didn’t yet know that being an advocate for him against really terrible odds, I would be preparing to be that same time of advocate for my mom when she got sick. I knew that our family was definitely going to be different – but I had no idea of how different.
Raven, it’s your mom writing. Since that absolutely terrible day when I got the news, I have locked the heartbreaking thought of your loss deep inside because I knew I couldn’t give it the place it needed. I still don’t know how I am going to. Today is the 1st of July and I marked this day as the one that I would really begin to acknowledge that you are gone. And it isn’t just off to another foster family this time or group home because you were ready to move on. This time, you are beyond reach.
I am so mad at you. We spent so much time learning to tell each other how we felt and I am not going to change that now. I bet you also knew that this would be something that would make me mad. As a matter of fact, I hope your last thoughts were a combination of “Oh, shit, is my mom going to be mad at me” and knowing as always how much I love you. And I really hope that there is some sort of after life and Miss Mary has you firmly by the arm. Because you don’t get to escape love and family that easily.
As your mom, I expected to have some experiences that probably other families didn’t always get to try. I was right and we made it work, because we belonged together. I think you learned that after realizing that no matter where you ended up, I would always find a way to visit you. It almost became a game – seeing the look of surprise on your face and hearing you ask me “How did you ever find me?” and taking great pleasure in giving you the standard answer “Your mom will always find you, DUH”. Even the Atlantic Ocean couldn’t change that.
I didn’t ever expect to have this experience. You are my Raven, the boy with the iron core. This wasn’t the way this should have turned out. We had a life planned for once you were 18. You would have been home again, with us. I don’t know how I am going to tell the boys, especially George, that you are not coming home.
You have broken your mom’s heart and I don’t think it will ever mend. I love you and we’re not finished with each other.
1 thought on “The First Chapter”
Oh Caroline, I’m so sorry. The love and dedication you showed Raven was and is unending. I know you flew anywhere he was just to see him, would go to therapy with him and would do anything for him. You knew Raven’s pain and showed him real joy. There are no words I can possibly say other than I know how much you are hurting. You will see him again and you can yell at him while you’re holding him so so tightly you never let him go.