May 29, 2011

Finding Keira's Joy

When I look back at pictures of Quint…our first few months together…I see so much love in those photos.  Two-way love.  Utter abandon of affection, joy, and trust.  He was, while strong-willed, an overtly loving and trusting soul.  He allowed Anton and I to cover him with our love and devotion and he absorbed and delighted in every bit of it. 

When I look back at pictures of Keira…oh…{sigh}.  I feel a bit removed.  Those first few months were difficult in so many ways.  Our love did not come as naturally for one another.  We were bruised – each in our own way.  Hurt, each in our own right.   Even a little bit miserable, if you will.  Getting through.  Trying to find a new normal.  Trying to find affection, joy, and trust.  And finding each one tucked away and hiding.  I look at the pictures and I see my girl – but I don’t.  Not the one I know now.

It took several months for a relationship to form between us.  And I would add that it truly has taken what has amounted to the whole year home for us to find  a solid rhythm.  A natural two-way street of honest love and delight in each other. 

Keira is a smart little girl.  We found this out in China.  She was intuitive in a way that we had not been prepared for.  Sensed things that babies her age didn’t seem to.  Understood things that my mind said she couldn’t possibly understand.  And her grief, as many of you remember, was palpable.  She refused to be comforted by us.  She instead, retreated within and held on to herself for dear life.  She wanted nothing to do with us.  And who can blame her?  In retrospect, you can see that better.  At the time, I was so hurt by her rejection of both of us – well, you know the story.


And if you don’t, you can read it here:

    But here is a bit of transparency:  Keira is such a lovely child.  And I’m so glad that I can see her clearly now – and understand her better today than even yesterday.  Her joy is now palpable – replacing her grief in folds. 

    I have gone back to look over the pictures of our time in China, only a few times.  It’s painful for me.  In many ways, I don’t like to re-live it by looking at the tough images of her grief.

    But I was delighted to look with fresh eyes at some of the photos that really seemed to capture her contagious spirit.  Even in her despair – she was trying so hard to find joy.  I am moved beyond words to see her little spirit shining through – something I simply could not see while we were there in the moment.  She was so beautiful.  So ALIVE.  Such a fighter.  So raw.  My God, the things she had been through in her short little life…and all she was trying so hard to understand, make sense of, accept…on whatever level she was able to.  She lost everything.  She lost her mother and was unceremoniously dumped into the arms of a new one. 

    Her resiliency on whatever level she could conjure it is breathtaking and I am humbled by the light in her eyes…





    And friends – now that I have time with me and the fresh pain of those weeks in China tucked neatly away, I can honestly say that I regret so much.  Knowing this child the way I do now…loving her the way I do; it nearly breaks me that I was missing in action for her.  I regret that I was consumed within and unable to be the grown-up I needed to be.  It was survival mode, and I was in deep.  Her rejection at the time spawned such a world of heartache for me that I had not planned on – and so, I just shut down and counted the hours/minutes/seconds until I could be home again.  I willed myself to play nice.  Smile.  Make an effort.  I willed myself to be her mother.  To play the part, though I was feeling none of it inside. 

    Maybe you hate even reading this right now.  Maybe it reeks of my selfishness.  And I would agree with you.  I was selfish.  And I was overwhelmed.  And I was beaten down.  Nothing, and I mean nothing – was as I thought it would be.  Nothing had prepared me for that kind of pain. 

    And I want you to know that I have whispered apologies from the depths of my heart into her little ears for months.  Whispered my deep affection, my undying love, my sheer delight in her – hoping it will erase any of the selfishness she might have felt from me in those first weeks together. 

    And I want you to know that I have fallen so deeply, so completely, so utterly in love with Keira Joy that there is no sense dwelling on the past any longer.  Our beginning was rough – and that’s the way it is.  But oh, the rest…what a love story.  Can I tell you?


    She is everything.  She is absolutely the daughter I prayed for and the child I longed for and
    the hope that stirred in my heart for so long. 


    She is apple pie and vanilla ice-cream, all warm and gooey and perfect and delightful.


    She is gorgeous – inside and outside and upside and downside. 

    There is nothing I can say here – nothing – that can encompass her fully.


    She is bright, happy, warm, out-going, shy, lovely, funny, smart, caring, gentle, kind, strong,
    independent, talkative, intuitive, sweet, charming, affectionate,
    loving, brave, tender, polite, curious, devoted…


    And I am so moved to tell you that she is deeply attached to all of us and we to her, in every possible way.


    For all the times I have thought to post about her, I could never find the words.  The reason is, she is all of them.  I’m not just being a writer.  I’m not just being a mother either.  I’m speaking from my heart and telling you that this child was a gift from God and He knew…oh how He knew…the many places she would fill and fit into my heart.  Into her Daddy’s heart.  Into the hearts of all who meet her.  She has a way…an unspeakable joy.

    And if you had asked me in China – if I ever could imagine writing this down for you to read  1 1/2 years later…imagine writing those words above about her, if I would have been able to accept it – I would have heartily said “no”.  I would have said it was impossible.

    But don’t let’s ask that Christie.  She was blind with pain.

    Let’s ask the one writing now

    The one with a better perspective.

    Not the one who “willed” herself to be Keira’s mother.  No, let’s leave her in the past.  She’s better off there.

    Let’s ask the one that Keira calls out to from across the room in that perfect tiny voice…

    Let’s ask her, because she’s so much better acquainted with who Keira was & who she really is.

    So much better equipped.

    So much more in touch with the heart of this amazing little girl.


    The same little girl who found a way to make those eyes sparkle
    under the darkest and saddest of circumstances.

    The same little girl whose eyes sparkle today.

    And for that all I can say is it's exactly as it should be...

    Keira Joy, I'm never going anywhere.

    I'm so grateful we found a way to each other, half a world apart.

    Against big odds, I think.

    And the bottom line is that I love you with everything in me

    and I will always be by your side to my last breath.

    Because I'm your mommy and it's for always, sweet baby girl.

    Always. Always. Always

    You are Joy.  Pure joy...