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No One is Alone

Here we are in the middle of Christmas, headed for New Year's and Epiphany! When last I left you, we were just easing in to the holiday season, on the heels of the signing of much official adoption paperwork.  The process continues. The judge has the papers.  We should be official about 2 months (or so). 

Overall, it has been a relatively easy Christmas. After five years of grief and dread, it's nice to have a healthy distraction in the form of a tiny person's holiday joy. All of those activities--visiting Santa, singing carols, looking at the lights, preparing presents for others--when seen through the perspective of a child can have a way of softening the blow a bit.  The sadness has been there in fits and starts, but it definitely feels different. These months between November and January are always a bit reflective anyway. 

Of course, while it is the season for holiday celebrations, it is also the time of mass binge watching of movies and other media. Now that we have a few weeks of rest from the regular work schedule, it has been great to have a little extra time to devote to my DVD player and the big silver screen.  

Kiddo, with her latest interest in all things musical, was thrilled to see Into the Woods. We went the day after Christmas and she loved the movie version.  (I did too, by the way; high praise for what is, quite possibly, my favorite musical.)  Even though we only introduced the show to her a few months ago, she easily noticed the differences between the stage show and the movie, some of which were rather subtle. 

Of course, I'm sure one of the reasons Kiddo has latched onto the concept of Into the Woods is the mash-up of all these familiar fairy tales (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack & the Beanstalk, Rapunzel) that converge on this journey into the forest. However, after conversations we've had about the story, I think she also really gets some of the greater themes at play in the musical.

Make no mistake: there's some heavy and deep themes about society, responsibility, and relationships at play in Sondheim's drama, only the first of which is "What happens when our wishes come true?"  Even after seeing the show for about the 6th time (and listening to the soundtrack for probably about 4x that number), Kiddo found herself tearing up during the penultimate song--No One Is Alone--and I can totally understand why she is able to relate to the lyrics:

People make mistakes
Fathers, Mothers
People make mistakes
Holding to their own
Thinking they're alone

Honor their mistakes
Everybody makes
One another's terrible mistakes

Witches can be right
Giants can be good
You decide what's right
You decide what's good

Just remember:
Someone is on your side
Someone else is not
While we're seeing our side
Maybe we forgot

They are not alone
No one is alone
Someone is on your side
No one is alone

Without revealing too much (yeah, that whole confidentiality thing again), it's pretty easy to say that Kiddo's short life has involved a series of changes, disappointments, and challenges all related to her feeling alone or abandoned in the process of finding a family.  It's tough stuff for anyone to deal with. It's hard to still love your biological mom and dad while simultaneously realizing they can't be with you forever. It's hard to grieve the loss that comes with change. It's hard to feel alone--and simultaneously feel surrounded by so many who have control over your life. Our job as her new family is to support her through all that muck, helping her to realize that she is NOT alone.  Sometimes it gets pretty messy.

Which brings me to my final anecdote of what has become a much longer blog post than I originally anticipated.  After we left the movie, we cruised over to Short Pump Mall to spend some of Kiddo's gift cards. Apparently, half of Richmond's West End (maybe more?) had the same idea and the mall was flooded with humans.  Since it was lunch time, we headed to the food court to get a meal and we were lucky enough to find a small table next to a family that included a mom, a grandmother, and 2 young kids (a 3 year old and an infant).  As they were finishing up, the grandmother took the little girl to the restroom and Kiddo ended up chatting with the mom as we finished our meal and she fed her infant. At first, they engaged in just some small talk about the holiday. Then Kiddo shared that we were going to Build-A-Bear to get a new doll.  This was where the conversation turned.

Kiddo: I went to Build a Bear once before but it was a long time ago. I got a Tinkerbell but I don't have it anymore.  I got it with my other family.

Kiddo looks to me for confirmation. The mom gives me a kind of odd look, obviously not understanding the whole picture.

Kiddo continues: But now I have a new family and I'm happy.

This is where I interject, looking at the mom and confirming.  "We are her foster parents right now but we are getting ready to adopt her. She's only been with our family a short time."

At this point, the mom's light bulb of recognition turns on and she smiles such a genuine smile, saying, "Oh! I had no idea! She looks like she could be your daughter. Oh! You have made my day!"

We shared a few more pleasantries and then made our way from the food court.  On the way out, I told Kiddo how brave she was to share that part of her story.  It's not always easy to explain her current situation to people and she handled it so well.  She said to me, "That was hard. I wasn't sure what to tell her but I didn't want to lie. I wasn't sure if she would understand."  I assured her that she can always say just what she wants and whatever makes her comfortable.  

We are not alone. Every life we touch has an impact, for better or worse. Sometime we want to leave all the bad behind and just think about the good stuff moving forward, but that's just not possible.  Our experiences shape us, but they don't need to define us.

I think of that as we enter a new year and continue our family's journey.  

Someone is on your side. No one is alone.

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