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Home is Where the Heart Is

There she was, curled into a dot on the bed, wrapped in a furry dog. I hoped my instincts would kick in as the dog’s had. This was way out of my comfort zone and level of experience… yet here she was, left in my uncertain hands.

The phone call had come just nine days earlier, during a leisurely afternoon nap (I had a feeling naps would be scarce in my new life). My blurry brain was having a hard time comprehending the surreal conversation. Perhaps I was still asleep and this was a  dream.

“Jane took off today. Nobody knows where she is, but I had a feeling this was coming. The kids are both with your father and me, but…” my mother trailed off. “It’s just too much for us with both the kids.”

What was she saying? What was she about to say? I knew there was a reason she had called me, and I think even in that foggy moment, I knew what the question would be. I’d had this conversation with my sister only a few weeks earlier. At the same time as it was a shock Jane had actually left, there had been some signs and a deep feeling it would come.

“Lynn, would you and Michael please consider taking in Diana?” What did that mean, and for how long?

My simple reply was, “Give us a couple days to think this over.” I could have just answered then. I knew what the answer would be. How could we deny taking in an innocent little girl who needed a home? Yet, this was my family, not his blood, and I knew a life-altering decision had to be discussed. That initial discussion lasted about 45 seconds. We knew it was the right thing to do, even if we were both frightened. So frightened.

So we stood in the doorway of the now pink room we had spent days preparing for her, and we watched her sleep, enthralled by what was happening.

She had not gone to sleep peacefully. She had screamed and cried and when there was nothing left for us to do, we had put her to bed where she cried herself to sleep as we helplessly cringed and stared at each other. She was angry, confused, and absolutely inconsolable. Who could blame her? But a four year old doesn’t know how to voice what we knew she was feeling. She didn’t understand where her mother was, why she had just spent a week and a half at her Gran and Pop’s house, and why she was now in our home, her great aunt and uncle she mostly just saw on holidays.

Our hearts went out to her. We knew she was in a tender place, but we also had to set a certain tone of authority, because this could very well be a permanent situation for us and we needed to be the ones in charge. What a crazy balance we would have to learn when we had spent fourteen years avoiding parenting.

She sighed and rolled over, and the dog stirred. The other dog, as uncertain and scared as we were, stepped towards the bed and peered over the top at the tiny creature who had made so much noise earlier, but now only lightly snored. She was a curiosity. Something new to be discovered, for all of us. And she would change us.

**Just a little creative writing draft**

Terri Klaes Harper

Copyright 2017