|Sasha, Nastia's birthfather|
Friday was meltdown day, with her in a pool of tears over a school project. 8:30am found us still on the floor of my downstairs office - her in the fetal position and hysterically crying, me trying to coax her out of her armor. If I didn't get her to school for her 9am final, she would get a zero. Boy, did I pray. I somehow got her there just in time, though she cried all the way to the door, and then I went in to talk to the school psychologist about what was going on. She wasn't there. Was I able to hold it together? No. I ended up in a pool of tears myself right there in the guidance office of the high school.
Saturday we got unexpected news about her birthmother. We've heard nothing about her for years now, so it was a very big shock. I can't share the news, and it wasn't upsetting news per se, but just the fact that we got an email about her from Nastia's remaining family in Siberia ripped a big whole in my daughter's heart. She was not ready to deal with this during such an already difficult time.
Then...Father's Day. For any of us with non-living fathers, this day is, at best, uncomfortable. Add to that the conflicting feelings of a teenager who never knew her father (and still can't decide if she wants to love him or hate him) and you get a very 'unsteady' and unwelcome holiday. We talked - alot - about both our fathers. We visited my Dad's grave and talked aloud to him in the shade of his beautiful gravestone. We took a long walk in the woods. We talked about what our fathers might say to us if they were here with us on this day. We sat in silence for awhile on the grass in the cemetery, and stared up at the green canopy overhead. We discussed death and heaven and loss everything in between. It was a pretty somber weekend.
Today Nastia wanted alot of alone time. I let her. Usually it's not healthy for her to isolate in her room, but today it was fairly obvious that she was processing alot and needed it. At about 3pm, after she had two hours of quiet, I coaxed her into walking the dogs with me by reminding her of the bread we had to feed the turtles and ducks. We headed to the pond in the woods and fed the biggest snapping turtles you have ever seen. And then we went to the other side and fed a family of ducks -- a mom and six ducklings. They were the cutest little things! We walked home at a leisurely pace with Henry and Matilda, fed everyone, and got to work on some final homework things she had left for her last day of school, tomorrow.
Tomorrow is also the seventh anniversary of my own father's death. He died just a few weeks after I brought Nastia home. He never got to meet her, though he called me about a dozen times a day to ask about her, in the days leading up to his death. He was so excited to have a grandchild - his first one. He called me incessantly to ask what she was doing, what new discoveries she was making, what was she eating, what new words had she learned. He revelled in each new discovery. 'Write it all down!' he'd admonish me at the end of every phone call. 'You don't want to forget any of this stuff!'
It doesn't hurt so much anymore - the anniversary of his death. The first few years felt like a flesh wound was ripped open every June 19th. Now it's just a day with a little pensive quality to it. Not too sad, but not a day to forget either.
Nastia and I are both on a healing journey and I see it getting easier with every passing year. Sometimes, like this past week, we hit setbacks. But for the most part, we are moving forward with every day, shaking off the dust of past hurts and traumas, and leaning into an ever-brightening future. I wish the same for you all.