Gavin de Becker, in Protecting the Gift, talks about the punishment a mother's body inflicts upon itself when she loses a child, whether through illness or kidnapping or whatever, how the body that once nurtured that child and gave him or her life reacts in fury to the mother's inability to keep that child safe and alive. As if it, along with her mind, believes that she no longer deserves her health if she can't follow through on her unspoken promise to that child to keep him or her safe from all comers.
I have never experienced such a devastating loss as those mothers have, and I certainly don't want to pretend what I felt was anything other than the merest phantom of what those mothers go through, but my body did make me pay for my willingness to follow through on the promise I made, when I welcomed Rooster into my home: I will give you back, when the time comes. My bones ached and my stomach churned. My knees trembled and my wrists and the palms of my hands experienced stabbing shocks of devastation. I walked around slightly hunched, as though a part of my heart had been torn away, and my posture bespoke my corporeal form's attempt to protect what remained from assault. I didn't even realize it until three people in one day asked why I kept rubbing my heart. I was trying to hold the pieces inside me.
I was in this state for a month. A month and two days.
I think I hid it well. I have people to protect and foster parenting for which to advocate. I loved God and I loved my children and my (other) foster children and I loved my husband and I had fun with my friends. I didn't drink too much and I didn't eat more than I needed, and I prayed for Rooster's parents. I drove the speed limit... and in the truck I turned the music up far too loud, loud enough to damage my ears, when I was alone, so I wouldn't hear the sound of my thoughts. I stayed up till four in the morning and arose again three hours later so I could take the children to school and then return home and stare past my housework.
This is what it's like, when you give them back. This is how it feels, when you dare to love a child, knowing that child will leave. It was worth every moment.