This week is one that I find tough. It happens every year, but it never gets any easier.
It's a happy week, one in which the anniversary of us meeting Mini for the very very first time occurs. 5 years ago this week we started 'introductions' with Mini.
I still remember walking into his foster carer's house, past the kitchen where he was eating his lunch, not wanting to sneak a peek until I could see him properly and take in every little gorgeous almost 13month old bit of him. Then a few minutes after, his social worker came through and unceremoniously plopped him on my lap. She almost had this kind of 'finality' about her, as if, now he was on my lap, that it was all over, he was ours and she'd done her bit.
We had a few hours playing and just absorbing him with his foster carer observing, and popping in and out. As an experienced carer she knew when to give us space, and when Mini needed her there. We stayed longer than we were supposed to, and were eager to return the next day.
It's a week of being grateful, as I recall the difficulties that the NC had in that week of introductions. I remember the times where he didn't want to go through with bringing Mini home and I remember literally begging him, sobbing on the floor at his feet to let us carry on, to let us bring him home. Luckily he sought help from our GP, and confided in our social worker who allowed us to go through with it all, but kept an extra close eye on us, and delayed us applying to court to formally adopt Mini. I was selfish, but also scared and desperate, and I will be forever grateful that the NC was strong enough to go through with it.
It's a week of remembering, as the day we met Mini is also the anniversary of my dear dad's death. I refer to it as his angel day - I'm not sure what I believe around angels, but I do like to think he's up there looking down on us. Dad has been gone for 9 years now, and I can still remember many of the details of what happened 'that night'. My dad took an overdose, but it was about 24hours before he actually died, in hospital - he'd taken American painkillers which contain different drugs and the hospital had trouble finding an antidote quickly. In the end, the drugs ate away, caused massive internal bleeding and his heart gave up. Afterwards, we discovered that he had heart disease too, which would have made it harder for his body to fight, although he didn't know that. He was just 47.
My dad never knew that we were going to adopt. He never knew he would have become a grandad. He doesn't know (or perhaps he does?) that I tell my children about him, that he is still their grandad even though he's not here. He would love them so much. If I close my eyes I can see him playing tricks with Mini - pulling a ball out from behind his ear like he used to with me. I can see him having a kick around in the garden with Mini. I can see him tickling Dollop and laughing along with her as she giggles. And I can see him teaching them both all manner of funny faces with all of them in hysterics as they do it!
I miss all those things even though they never happened. I miss seeing the relationship between my babies and their grandad grow, I miss seeing my dad grow - he's stuck in my head at he age he died, perhaps that's a good thing. Mini and Dollop have other grandads with whom they have wonderful relationships, but I am sad that they couldn't have that with my dad too.
I won't share the reason my dad committed suicide, it's personal to him, and painful for me but I've always wondered why I wasn't enough of a reason for my dad to live. I know he was depressed and struggling with his situation, but I still can't quite get my head around the fact that my brother and I weren't enough for him.
So if Mini ever wonders why he wasn't enough of a reason for his birth mother to try harder, to be better, to be good enough to parent him, I can empathise, because I truly understand how it feels to not be enough.
Somehow despite the happy memories that we made this week 5 years ago, the sad feelings always take over. Somehow this week is even more emotional and painful now, as it's not just about my loss anymore, but all the things my children lost when my dad passed away. It almost sounds ridiculous because they never knew him, and he them, but still...
Next week will be happier as we'll remember the day Mini moved in, but for now, I'll sadly miss and fondly remember my dad...