In Feast of Mercy, the section I’m writing now, many of the characters are reflecting on the upcoming War of Wars, as well as harboring hopeful thoughts of what will happen should they triumph against Brutus and the Black Queen: thoughts of their legacies. Because Four Feasts Till Darkness is really just the start of Geadhain’s epic, you can imagine how grand and far some of those legacies will reach into the future of the world. Once I stepped away from my work this weekend—those thoughts of futures, achievements and legacies still rattling about in my head—I thought of what I’d like to leave behind. I believe that Geadhain will be one of my legacies, though there was a time, and could be again, where I didn’t want it to be all that remained of me after my spirit had moved on.
We thought of having kids. The expression—especially having—always struck me as so odd: having them for lunch, for tea, or are they chattel that you’ve bought? Anyway, we thought of ‘raising a family’ (that’s better). We felt that the best way to do that, would be to take on a disadvantaged child, one whose family had already decided that they didn’t want, or couldn’t keep, him or her. So we reached out to Native Child and Family Services and we signed up for the PRIDE program (it’s an acronym for parental classes that are a requirement for adoptions here in Canada). We had our police checks and physicals done—the latter simply for our own peace of mind. Turns out we were neither criminals, nor critically ill. Yay.
A few months later and our social worker contacted us for a meeting. Being stable, married, financially and physically healthy people, we’d been somewhat fast-tracked. Indeed, we skipped half the initial meeting’s questionnaire since one of us wasn’t a woman and we weren’t biologically capable of having children—I empathize with the ordeal some people must go through in order to “qualify”. We sat down with our social worker; she was jittery from excitement. “We have a potential placement,” she said, and showed us a picture. My heart did two things. First, my heart hammered from joy as I beheld the image of an angelic creature swaddled in white like a mini, multicultural Baby Jesus: olive skin, crystal-green eyes, a curled tuft of hair, dimples, and a smile as bright as sunshine. I’d never seen such a beautiful child, made even more cherubic by the thought that we might raise, love and support him. Even his name struck a chord with me–its grace and old-world elegance: “Theodore.”
Then reality brought its cold hammer down. My heart sank. My second book was coming out. We were still wrapping up a massive renovation–and none of those changes had been childproofing our home. My partner was preparing to step into a new and more challenging role at work. We hadn’t even started our PRIDE program. Suddenly, dates were being thrown around the table along with notions that Theodore might be with us in a few months. I panicked. We panicked. I think we knew during the meeting that we were ultimately going to decide, “no.” A few days later, we declined, properly, with a delicate phone call to our social worker. There’s nothing so horrible as having to come to a decision like that. I knew then and now that we were at a crossroads, and can’t help but wonder what the other path might have been like.
Indeed, I reflect on that choice, on Theodore, to this day. I wonder if our decision was the biggest missed opportunity of our lives. Not for Theodore, whose effervescence and charm will almost guarantee him a happy family, somewhere. However, it won’t be with me, and that’s what stings. Years ago, I wasn’t ready for children: mentally, emotionally. Most detrimental to the idea, was that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice, or to greatly overhaul my behaviors and habits for the sake of a creature that demands your life be nothing but chaos for a decade or more.
I’ve written about chaos, families, entangled-relationships, love and the whole shitty, wonderful mess of the human experience. I think that was enough for a time, though it’s not anymore. One daydream that comes to me, one dream that fills the horizon of my mind more and more is of my work being shared as a living memory with Theodore—or a boy or girl like him: sitting on my lap, clapping to the thrills and sorrows of adventurers on Geadhain (a children’s story, which I’m actually working on). Once Four Feasts Till Darkness is done, we’re going to re-examine that choice we made. We’ll see if Geadhain is my only legacy.
All my love,
P.S. The title-piece (seen above) and more awesome images have been added to the Gallery.