In the midst of the most difficult week of our life, we still attempted normalcy. Jubal had his one month appointment, so we decided to spend some time at Starbucks so we could have access to internet. It was the best day all week: we laughed, we felt hope, we planned Christmas at home (still holding out hope we'd make it back), and then while we were at Starbucks, Russ got a call from his dad. I was holding Jubal, and from the way Russ' shoulders fell, I knew something was going on - something unexpected and horrible. My gut twisted.
When he got off the phone, he looked at me. "That was Harlan. Our case worker called him. North Carolina just denied our paperwork. They won't work with our agency." My arms went numb. I couldn't feel anything - my fingers grasped at Jubal's shirt, almost as if I were preemptively holding on tighter. I asked what this meant. Russ said he didn't know, and that Harlan said it sounded like our case worker was calling him on our behalf - like she could get in trouble for telling us this information.
I told him I needed to leave. He nodded, understanding. I handed him Jubal because I was already shaking too much and crying too hard to hold him and not be at risk of dropping him. We still needed food, and we still needed diapers and formula. We decided to do Target first.
Russ looked at me. "Do you just want to stay in the Subaru while I go inside?" I stared out the window, nodding, unable to speak. I had no idea what this meant, no idea what our next course of action was or how in the world we'd get out of this nightmare. I texted Mama Rad and told her something happened, "I need to tell you over the phone." I still couldn't feel anything. I still couldn't breathe.
We drove around after Target, trying to find a place to eat. I told Russ I couldn't decide on anything and that I didn't know if I would even be able to force something down. I couldn't stop crying - everything felt so broken, so irreparable, and every time I looked at our son my heart broke a little bit more because I couldn't imagine losing him. It felt like we'd been pranked. All four of us. Even still, I kept hearing in my core, "I am pushing back darkness."