Brokenness & Resiliency

Yesterday was Sebellah’s birthday.  She received a Disney Gizmo Watch from her Great Grandparents, who actually serve in the role as grandparents in Sebellah’s perspective, since we serve in the role as her parents.  She was so excited about it and has had a lot of fun exploring all the watch can do.  Today, she was trying out her new roller skates, so we decided that it would be smart for her to take off the watch and for me to hold it as she roller skated.  So, I put the watch in my sweatshirt front pocket.  You probably know where I am headed with this story.  Later, forgetting about the watch being in my pocket, I decided to take off the sweatshirt.  I didn’t even hear the tragedy happen.   A few moments later I turned and saw the watch on the concrete laying upside down.  I can’t describe my emotions as I turned the watch over and saw that the screen was severely cracked and damaged.  I tried to find a way to replace the watch “Today”, but that particular watch has to be special ordered.  So, we got online and ordered a replacement watch.  Sebellah did not see the incident and I tried to replace the watch without her knowing that her watch was cracked.  When I realized that I could not accomplish that, I sat down with her and broke the bad news.  Actually, she handled it very well.  She did tear up, but she showed a great deal of maturity for a new “Seven-Year-Old”.  She always clearly communicated her forgiveness for my tragic error.  She demonstrated great “Resilience”.

This incident reminded me of the “brokenness” that grandparents face when raising our precious grandchildren.  We were fortunate enough that we were able to step into Sebellah’s story very early on.  We took custody of her when she was only 5 months old.  We were also fortunate that she never left the care of our custody.  There was a time when we did actually lose legal custody and were working with our daughter to transition her to return to her care.  Sadly, it took the death of her mother’s second child to help the court system to realize that her mother could not care for her appropriately.  The details of all of that are a story for another time.  Yet, it does also illustrate that the kind of brokenness that we face and the brokenness that impacts our lives as well, as our grandchildren.  It was with broken hearts that we took up the fight once again to gain permanent custody of Sebellah.  Fortunately, our daughter came to realize that it was in Sebellah’s best interest to allow us to adopt Sebellah.  We were elated to be able to finalize Sebellah’s adoption in May of 2018.  Yet, that adoption, which was gift to both Sebellah and us, was a dagger of brokenness in the heart of her mother.  A brokenness that I don’t believe she ever recovered from.  Unfortunately, her only means of dealing with that brokenness, was to run away, and she ran as fast and as hard as she could till her brokenness led to her own overdose death.  Which of course, led to more brokenness and pain.  A brokenness that is felt the strongest in Allene’s heart, a brokenness that only a mother can experience.

Fortunately, we have been able to provide Sebellah a very loving and stable home, and I believe that we have been able to provide an environment that has provided the healing that her young heart and spirit needed and deserved.  She rarely shows any signs of the brokenness that she experienced during her first months of life.  She is a great example of the healing power of love and consistency.  We have also had great support from family and friends that have played major roles in that healing experience for Sebellah and us as well.

Much of the brokenness that we experience and witness, can be mended and healed.  Some of it, not so much.  Often, the only path to healing is the experiencing and expressing of the pain associated with the brokenness.  Just as today, I wanted to help Sebellah avoid the pain of knowing her watch was broken, and yet, she had every right to feel the pain of the loss of something that was precious to her.  I believe the allowance of that pain, actually help her move forward to accepting of the reality of the situation.  Yes, it also helped know another watch was coming.   Sebellah is resilient and we need to be reminded that our children are resilient and are capable of overcoming the brokenness that they experience.  We are often the main agents of fostering that opportunity for resiliency.  The gift of resiliency is a precious gift that will last for a lifetime, and yet it is an expensive gift that only is developed through the experience of brokenness and healing.  Not only do our grandchildren develop resiliency but so do we, as grandparents raising grandchildren, and often our own resiliency models it for our grandchildren and invites them to learn the necessary skills to overcome and thrive in the midst of brokenness and pain.

So, as you face brokenness in your own story of raising a grandchild, I encourage you to remember that resiliency is just around the corner.  I encourage you to model and encourage “experiencing and expressing” of our brokenness, therefore opening the door of healing and resilience.

Sharing the Journey,

Rich (“Pops”)

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I have been involved in the field of Human Services for 30 plus years. I teach in the field of Human Services for Purdue University Global. Allene is a stay at home "Lolli", after spending many years in the Healthcare field. We have 3 adult children and in May, 2018, we adopted our granddaughter, who is 6 years-old. We have had her since she was 5 months old. At the end of 2019, we moved to Mount Airy, North Carolina, as a part of a plan to downsize and give Allene the chance to retire, and be at home full-time. We are devoted to making a difference in Sebellah's life and also in the lives of other grandparents raising grandchildren.

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