This is another post from an older blog I kept as Summer and I prepared to adopt our daughter, Sophie. (Originally published August 31, 2006
Jean-Paul Sartre once said that “Hell is other people.” He captures that Hell in his work No Exit. (A classic and a must read, that is why I linked it!) I find myself in a dark place this evening…a fearful place…a place where Hell is other people. I don’t even have the heart to mount a satirical rant about beauracracy and red tape. Eventhough, I found out today that I will have to wait until the end of September to go pick up my Sophie. I am cheered by the realization that I still get to make the trip. Though…the wait has shaken me to the core of my being. Already, one family has lost a child because the birth family took the child back. (I am hard pressed to know how to pray for that situation, while I feel deeply for the adopting family, if for no other reason than I worry I may find myself in their position, who could fault me for not rejoicing that the child is again with the birth family.) I want to be with Sophie now and no amount of distraction, coping, or kind words can shake that thought. This bothers me greatly, the fact I cannot distract myself. I have had the curse or the ability (depending on how you look at it) since I was a kid to shut off all feelings and thoughts about any person I choose (a defense mechanism, I didn’t ask for it, I had to develop it or die). I can…or should I say I could…do this with all the mental focus that it takes most people to decide what they will have for dinner. It works rather like turning on or off the proverbial light switch. With a flick of this switch, I can stop feeling…sad I guess in a way. This isn’t male bravado, its the truth. I can do it with the wife (though less than when we first started dating), the sister, the mom, the dad…you get the picture. Ok readers, now you know why I never look or act stressed. This is not repression…because I eventually have to turn the switch back on…then the light…or the person…or the feelings…well, they flood back. Today, I realize that I no longer have this “ability,” put more positively, I no longer have this curse…at least not with one little girl. I go to flick the switch in my mind and little fingers push the switch back on. I go to turn it off, and little hands grab my arm and pull my hand a way from it. I don’t even want to reach for it anymore…I just want to hold the little hand that keeps grabbing mine. I’m going to quit typing now, small hands keep pulling at my shirt…grabbing my wrist…pulling me away to some other pursuit. So, I find myself praying…but, I have no words…I have reached that point that St. Paul talked about…where the spirit prays within a person in groans that we can’t understand. Groans but, I need words! Yet how do I find them? Help! There is one hope, art! For me art is an escape, it is a way for me to express the few things in life that I can’t find words for…the honest truth is I rarely am speechless… I often have a speech when modesty and humility calls me to simply say, “I am speechless.” Up until Sophie, the only time I gave myself to art was in preparation for VBS because for me when I am painting or drawing there is always some agonizing moment, even if it lasts but for a minute, when I think about how my best sketches when I first started drawing came during times of great duress, agony, or anxiety. Rarely does the art from those days literally express my emotions. The giveaway is in how detailed I make the piece! The more detail, the more I was trying to focus on the paper to avoid focusing on something else. Nowadays these moments come and go quickly and I focus on the fact that what I am doing will make someone else’s day…other people’s joy becomes my joy, then I am joyful. Enough streams of consciousness, Hell is other people. I don’t know if this works philosophically without coming off as sounding wrong. I find myself in hell due to my deep love for my baby daughter. I find myself in agony wanting to be near her! Yet, the hell of it is…like in Sartre’s play…is that I wouldn’t trade anything to relieve myself. Suffering is a sign of love…OK, that works…it at least jives with the New Testament. I wouldn’t trade anything or take anything for the realization today of how deeply in love I am with a child I have not even met yet! May God have mercy on me…may the days pass fast now! And when she is here in my arms may minutes be eternities.