our American life.

Hello sweet friends,

Life has been so weird of late. Auggie is still gone. We are still here.
Corban and I went to NYC for meetings. I thought Judsen and Joe were going to come with me too, but when I offered they said New York is the city and it smells wonky.
They are kind of right. NYC in June does emit a certain funky aroma.
I felt good about going, because it was with Children’s Rights.
And I really just love them.

If I am painfully honest, I felt a little freaked out. The last time I went to New York, Auggie died. But that is not the point of this post.
A brief life-update:

Asher goes to his ABA program and LOVES it. He only uses me as his personal toilet every-other-day, which is a drastic improvement from multiple times a day…right? I will take the progress. 

Adam breaks things and asks for two snacks. Not one. One would be insufficient. 
He is also entirely obsessed with being a chicken farmer. He gets his boots on every morning and cries and cries by the door if he is not a morning-time chicken checker.
Joe and Judsen are at the farm most mornings. They love the outside, dirt bikes, vehicles (of any kind), the chickens, and all things that are not inside chores or schoolwork.
Mia has become a talented artist. She draws and paints and texts her friends. She is almost a teenager and reminds me of this every day. When she turns 13, we will have five teenagers. This is not funny. 
Corban is writing original poetry. He reads.  He reads some more. He asks for new books and reads more. Sometimes he swims. And then he reads again. 
Celee drives all the places and sings at church and dances and works part-time for Nigel organizing. She is beautiful and responsible and I cannot even handle all of this.
TC is in his grown-man school figuring out grown-man things and learning to be a commercial diver.  He lives states away from us now. And I over-text him. And over-call. And he tolerates me. And I really love that. 

Largely, life is normal. And that seems abnormal. But maybe not. 






  Having things to do.
Everyone in our family has their things-to-do. And they are doing well. And getting older and seemingly wiser. I think, while Auggie was alive, his needs filled a lot of time. I did his scheduling, his doctors’ appointments, his therapy. It isn’t specific to special-needs moms, it is just being a mom. Your kid needs something, you meet the need. Am I right? I didn’t mind. It is a busy-ness that many friends are familiar with. It isn’t bad, it is reality. And I was happy to be the one to do it. But, with Auggie gone, it really has left a peculiar void for the days and I am unsure how to fill that space. Or if I even need to.
Right now, I drink lots of coffee. I have discovered Salted Caramel Mocha Creamer…and friends, consumption is HIGH. I write a lot. And read a lot. I periodically aggravate DSS with foster parent and child advocacy questions and requests. I hang out with kids. I have some days where it seems as though nothing is required of me. And I really do not like it. Is it odd that I am less productive? I feel like I have excessive time to get everything done and then I am late getting it done. My logical brain cannot make sense of this phenomenon. So basically, I annoy myself.
The things we hear.
We have people say all the time, “I grieve for you” and “I feel so sorry for you.”  I know the meaning is good. I know the heart is right. I KNOW THIS. I am sorry for me too, sometimes. But my kids. When the kids hear someone feels sorry for us they are quite confused. Last week, we ran into a very kind acquaintance at the grocery store, and she said she was so sorry and felt so bad. I smiled and thanked her and said we were doing okay…and one of my children inquired, “Did you know Auggie?” The woman responded that she hadn’t. And that same child pointedly said, “Well, then don’t feel sorry for me, I feel sorry for YOU.” (cringe) I am so sorry sweet, sweet lady. It was said rudely. I just wasn’t sure how to correct that in that exact moment. I think I was a little happy and a little horrified and just not quite sure how to proceed.
All the talking.
We are a talk-y family. We TALK. A lot. Given our grouping of people, it is the only way we can function. We have meetings. The kids have meetings. I have meetings with the kids. The laundry room is my “office” and we will meet there to discuss hard subjects as needed. We think through difficult and painful scenarios in alternatives. And the alternative in Auggie’s situation is that he starved to death, alone in an orphanage. That means we never would have known him. His face. His giggle and that big, fat grin. We never would have known him. And that would have been the true tragedy.

The things we learn.
Auggie broke our hearts. He did. But not just when he died. Auggie opened our eyes to the lying-down rooms in orphanages. I had heard and read about them. But there is nothing that prepares you for rows of children-that-look-like-infants-but-aren’t in cribs with blanket-covered plywood as a mattress. There is no accurate, relatable manner in which to convey the horror of slightly-living bodies wrapped in rags.

I left that orphanage acutely aware that I had lived a life entirely unaware.
How could the world miss this?
And how did I? 

The things I see.
What I am seeing emerge in our children here is deep, genuine gratitude (and maybe sometimes rude gratitude). But gratitude nonetheless. The younger Irons are better humans than I am, and always have been. Many times, I have to sincerely search for gratefulness, but it is always there. It lives beneath the sad and selfish. When I find it, it disperses new life and energy into the fold. Gratitude is contagious.

Weird and new things.
I am watching all the weird things happen. Children maturing. Moving out. Becoming seniors. Turning into teenagers. Starting middle school. Learning to communicate and start real big-boy class. This breathing life is for the living. It goes on. And it is weird.
And good. And tragic. And so, so beautiful.
As our kids grow, I am witnessing them digging deep within their own experiences and finding commonality with other wounded and healing souls. The injustices in their lives connecting freely and naturally with others living similar circumstances. I love having a front row seat to these events. These experiences make me smile and can assuage the still-raw spirit.
Looking forward.
And this is where we find ourselves, in our American life. With lots of fun and funny children. Missing one tiny boy, and knowing that will not change. There is no remedy in this lifetime. Only in the next. That has to be okay. And it is.
Please do not misplace your grief for us. Aim it at the ones that truly need your heartache…those languishing in foster care. Those alone in asylums. The hungry. The starving. The abused and ignored. Find these people and be the solution. These humanitarian and civil rights tragedies can be solved in our lifetime. But not by angry social media rants. As in all crises, only action evokes change. So my friends, let’s get to work.

Many blessings.



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