She waited in line for thirty minutes to get her book signed.
“I just want you to know,” she murmured, stepping to the front of the line and handing me her book, “that I understand. You know.”
I did know, and her empathy comforted me. I set down my pen and took her hand in mine. In that moment, I didn’t feel so alone in my barrenness.
“Though we were able to adopt.”
It’s only joy when a woman in her seventies tells me this. I know that she is neither trumpeting her gift nor exhorting my empty nest. She is simply telling her story, often after years of self-induced silence. “God be praised!” I smiled.
She shook her head swiftly, silencing my exuberance. “It didn’t turn out well.”
I staid my lips. I had heard similar stories from mothers across the country, but similarities are not what matter most in these moments. What matters most is listening to and bearing this particular mother’s pain.
“Twins. We adopted twins. One committed suicide–”
Lord, have mercy.
“–the other…well, the other doesn’t…visit us anymore.”
I felt her next words coming before they left her lips. I hear them often. They are the Song of Sarah.
“Maybe I wasn’t supposed to have children. Maybe I shouldn’t have pushed…you know…maybe God never wanted me to adopt.”
“That’s a lie from Satan.”
She pressed her lips together. “I know. But…”
“God gave you the gift of children through adoption. That’s the truth. You mothered the children God gave you. There’s no promise that any child — birthed or adopted — will turn out the way we expect. We love them and raise them in the Faith, because that is what God commands parents to do. That’s what you did. That’s all any of us can do.”
“We trust in the Lord’s mercy in all things.”
Me in my childlessness, and she in hers.
I signed her book, and we parted ways.