One of the sweetest things “K” does is at bedtime. After we’ve given her a shower, put on her p.j.’s, tucked her into bed and, of course, given her a kiss good night, she will pat the bed next to her, smile at whichever one of us is putting her down, and say “here”. She won’t stop until you lay down next to her.
It’s a tight squeeze on her twin bed with her, me, multiple pillows and a large stuffed Blue doll. Usually my head is resting on Blue’s foot and my legs are hanging off the bed. It’s incredibly uncomfortable and it’s my favorite part of the day. “K” is so happy and loving in this moment. She wants to hold my hand and cuddle close and “talk”.
I would love to have a conversation with “K”. I would love to be able to know her hopes and dreams, what she did at school that day and what she’s looking forward to tomorrow. I know she will never be able to tell me these things. But, in these moments I know exactly what she’s saying.
It truly is amazing that the best part of my day with her is bedtime. For the first two years that “K” was a part of our family night time was the worst time of the day for all of us. As it is for most foster children, for “K” the night brought out the trauma. She was beside herself in terror. She would scream, cry and thrash around. She would fight us tooth and nail not to get into her bed and would run up and down the hall screaming in terror.
She actually didn’t sleep in her bed at all that first year, sleeping on her bedroom floor instead. She usually only stayed in her room a couple of hours a night. She, as “J” did throughout his first year with us, suffered from night terrors and would wake up screaming in the middle of the night. We would bring her into our room and she would lie on the floor next to our bed. Those years were exhausting and heart breaking. We know some of “K’s” past and some of her trauma, but we will never know the true extent of what happened to her before she came to us. Living out the depth of her trauma every night was gut-wrenching. “What could have possibly happened to this little girl?” we would ask ourselves and each other. Perhaps, some things are better not known.
Often with our children my husband and I feel overwhelmed by their past. Often we feel hopeless and defeated and yet, tonight, my little girl who once was so traumatized by her past she couldn’t even go near her bed, happily climbed into bed, gave me a kiss and asked me to cuddle up before she went to sleep and I was reminded how far we have all come and that we are blessed.