When a Headache Alarms Me

I picked the wrong pillow. Yeah, that’s why a pounding headache pulled me out of sleep. I tossed the pillow and fluffed up the one flattened underneath and settled back in. But the pounding like a tom-tom wouldn’t relinquish its rhythm. I laid on one side then the other, and for a minute on my back waiting for release. Nothing. Monday, 5:30am, and I guess waking and walking with headache was as good as tossing and turning with one.

I put some water to boil for a pour-over and drank a glass of water. Lack of hydration was probably the culprit as much as the pillow. In any case, I knew my usual sit-down with God was going to be distracted by the back of my head acting like a clanging cymbal.

My office was more disheveled than usual and served as an apropos metaphor for the ache in my head. I couldn’t find my glasses, and for a minute couldn’t find God. The pain seemed like a fire-wall stunting my ability to give or receive. I sat. I waited for the thrumming to ease up. I waited for God to do something about it.

Then they came. Words. Words in the back of my mind, right above the pounding. Jerry, your family is your family. What? No kidding. Of course. Thanks for the obvious. Be still now. Your family is your family.

So I sat. Here I sit now, fingers on the keys while the Great Muse above waits. It saddens me to think I need to be told. I’d rather be reading some intellectual gruel. I’d rather be forming a poem out of the pickup sticks of my life. To home in on my family is tough. “How’s the family?” Ah, that loaded question that brings pause. I think of Beirut. I think of “Whack a Mole” at Chuckie Cheese’s. I think of all the brokenness we brought into our lives. I think of why I don’t write about the issues that slurry around this compound we call Casa. Maybe it’s time to let it out and let people in on what goes on in this house of adoption. At least to journal more about my family who is my family.

For now, the headache has subsided. I think the ache migrated to my heart. To feel it, like my “boots on the ground hero-wife”. It’s what she needs and what my family, who is my family, needs.

What do you think? Are you an adoptive parent? Should I air some laundry, clothes pin it with candor and realistic, cathartic, therapeutic, and thinly sliced hope? Should I let it dry out in the wind of bloggery?

Barbara and I have been discussing writing about our journey. Shall I begin here?

Wish Upon a Scar


We dipped our wish in tepid tears,

and laid it on the early years.


The wounds of heart and soul so far

have branded this one with a scar.


It ran and hid beneath the skin,

and we are left to wondering.


Oh God, let not our tears go dry,

nor let us fail to catch her eye.


Send us your embroidered cloths,

your wishes dipped in our own thoughts.


Then lay them, will you, warm and moist

upon her scar, our healing voice.



They are ours. They are Barrett’s. We signed all the papers, lots of them. Yet sometimes I wonder if the agency left out something, some attachment that we didn’t sign. Those of you who have adopted children out of chaotic situations know what I mean. Attachment. Every human being is designed for attachment; emotional, physical, and mental. We heard about this issue common in adoptions. Barbara researched ‘attachment’ to the enth degree. But the realities of living with a detached child are stretching to say the least. Her mother instincts would and will not let her relent in the pursuit of brooding over her children, biological or adoptive. It is the real and raw stuff of motherhood. Often I stand beside her with no words to help. Continued prayers to Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, rise from our worn, weary hearts. We slouch mystified at how these scars manifest over and over again as Barbara has given words, hugs, and discipline in hopes of change. We know it is not the child’s fault and pleads for grace and mercy are pulled from the deepest pockets of our hearts. A mother’s heart is the most resilient muscle on earth, yet if there was a test to the edge of resilience it is a child of detachment. Ask any mother of adoption with children hiding these scars.

My prayer, our prayer, is the poem above. It is for adoptive families, especially a prayer hug for the mothers of adoption.