All of a sudden, moving day was here, and it was time to say goodbye. It was Saturday afternoon, and it was hot hot hot outside. The U-Haul was loaded and running, and the four of us were standing behind it in the street. We all hugged in one big group hug. I cried, tried to stop crying, and consequently cried harder. The heat from the sun and the heat from the moving truck and the heat from the asphalt surrounded us. I made us do another group hug.
And then he was gone.
I guess part of me will always think of Jason as our first child. I know that technically neither of us are his parents, and he fits more into the "foster child" category than anything else, but we think of him as our own. When we first got him, he was a little 11-year-old dragging the couch cushions into our room late at night to sleep on the floor next to us, because there was a scary spider in his room. Now he's a big 14-year-old with straight As, a penchant for rock and metal music, and a can of spider spray for his room. Having Jason live with us was hard hard hard, but it was also such an amazing, happy, fun experience. It will forever define our family.
As he pulled away, Sam and I just kind of looked at each other. "We're like a normal family now," I said as I wiped my tears. "A traditional nuclear family with a mom and a dad and one biological child."
"Weird," Sam agreed. We watched the heat coming off the asphalt for a minute.
Then Sam said, "Which one of us has to take out the garbage now that he's gone?"
And that was that.
I took these pictures last week so Jason and Claire would both have some visual memories of their time together. Jason picked out Claire's outfit, and requested that I put her hair in the "double spikes" for the pictures. It's not often that the youngest child in a family (Jason) gets to have a younger sibling for a year, or that the oldest child in a family (Claire) gets to have a big brother. Watching them grow and play together has been so unspeakably sweet.
We love you Jason, and we miss you like crazy! We can't wait to see the awesome things you'll do with your next big adventure!
(Read more about Jason, my husband's little brother who's been living with us, here.)