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I’ve only ever seen him tear up once. We were dating then, and it’s been 10 and a half years of marriage now. Even when I miscarried, twice, he was too busy holding me to think about crying, too busy telling me it was going to be okay while I pushed him away and said, “Be careful, you might hurt the baby,” because mothers never let go of their children, not really.

But today when we renovated the nursery, I saw it. He was standing in the doorway when I asked him if we could move the change table and the crib because we’ve been trying for a year now, honey, and we have two foster boys who could use this room, and that’s when he looked away.

The sorrow just grabbing at his skin and yanking, and I touched his arm. “I’m sorry, babes,” I said.

We’re still trying for the “missing child”–the one we feel belongs to this family. We’re trying in a half-hearted kind of way, and we’re praying, even as we take adoption classes and learn about all of the children who need families.

And I think of Clara from A Promise in Pieces–a midwife who serves as a nurse in World War II. She returns home to find fatherless babies and exhausted mothers and one of those mothers, she dies giving birth and leaves Clara with her son.

Clara, who is so scared of losing someone that she’s already decided not to marry, and Oliver, a veteran soldier with a limp and a voice like a songbird, who brings her a cradle he’s carved to lay her child in, and together they form a family.

Because there’s no family that isn’t broken. All of us, we’ve been cut jagged but we’re like puzzle pieces, fitting into the other and together, making a beautiful picture.

So we renovated the nursery today because our foster boys need somewhere to sleep and I watched Trent carry that change table out to the shed. I watched as he pulled open the door, and there, sit our other baby things–the swing, the playpen, the white bassinette we used for both our boys–all of it just waiting, like empty arms.

“I hear God saying he’s bringing her to us,” I tell Trent in the dark as we find each other’s hands. “I don’t know what that means, whether that’s adoption or not, but he says not to worry.”

He squeezes my fingers and after he falls asleep, I go and stand in the dark, looking at the nursery which looks so grown-up now with its beds and its chest of drawers, and I cry. Remembering how I would sit nursing my now two-year-old Kasher with his hand orchestrating the sky as he drank from me, and the quiet of the moon as it fell through the window onto his long eyelashes.

I can hear her–the same way I can hear both my miscarried babies–calling, and for all of my trying I can’t get to her.

I close the door.

Tiptoe into my boys’ rooms and kiss their cheeks, flushed for sleep, and the house is full again.

Find my way back to bed, around the curve of my husband’s shoulder, and breathe deep.

On this, the day we renovated the nursery.

I’m excited to be giving away my debut novel, A Promise in Pieces. It’s historical romance, and is part of the Quilts of Love series. Just leave a comment below and we’ll choose TWO winners within the week.

If you want to order it, you can do so HERE, and you can also download the first three chapters of the book HERE for FREE.

Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of four books including