Sunday, February 2, 2014

hurt and healing

Spotty internet has not only kept me from emailing with updates, it's almost created an interrupted, suspended reality here for us. Andrew's shifts and door-to-doc quality improvement emails, church nursery information emails for me, and any goings-on at home feel very, very far away, almost like a parallel universe where cockroaches don't crawl out from the folds of your hanging bath towel and you understand all the people who look at you and mutter under their breath, but also a world where "jon-jon chicken" and my daughter do not exist. This week we are still Haitian at heart, somehow able to now navigate the pot-holed road in the dark at night now, telling the babies "chita" (SHEE-da or "sit down here, little person") and "desann" (de-SON or "climb down off of there, kid") greeting everyone with that higher-pitched, musical "bon jou" or "bonsoir" (bon-JOO or bon-SWAH or "good day/good morning/hey/what's up") tossing it out generously with a smile like a cluelessly affectionate flower girl at a wedding. It's weird what culture immersion does in 8 days. We have until Friday afternoon and then we will board a plane, forget Creole in almost no time at all, and leave a tiny girl with a freaked-out heart here, praying we might return so, so soon. Most moments I feel the tension of how much dread I feel in knowing I will leave her, and also really missing my life, my people, my world at home. Today, things will be upheaved a little with church and grocery shopping, the rhythm of seeking out this baby girl's heart slightly broken. I pray it will be a slight reprieve for her. 

 The thing about bonding and toddlers is that when you are trying to become the caregiver, there is a necessary transfer of power that the baby needs to witness between the former and the new. The baby needs stability, predictability, and they find comfort in knowing what to expect, in routines and constancy - none of which I am able to provide to my daughter. What we can give her, for now, is an introduction to 2 people who, though we are lily-white and speak a far less beautiful language and don't have 1/2 the rhythm her nannies do, love her with a focus and singularity she has never known before. People whose eyes are for her only, who smile a little creepily everytime she looks up to assure herself we are still watching her. What we can offer her is not healing, only God does that work and I believe it will not really happen until she is home and we can dive in, but it is indeed our very hearts. We keep offering, palms up like one long game of "high fives" and sometimes - SOMEtimes - we see she may, one day, receive our love. Yesterday, we took her with us to the small 2-room apartment kept downstairs for a few hours, away from the babies and nannies and Creole songs and cardboard blocks, a compromise with the Madame with the blindingly brilliant and optimistic smile who has wanted us to "take her to the market and to a restaurant and to the guesthouse with you for 2 days, for 3 days, and let her see you are her parents". 

Though the market and a restaurant and guesthouse are out of the question for this trip, we descended the steps of the orphanage, set up some music on iTunes, brought books and baby dolls and Play-Doh to woo her from her quietness and settled with her, alone for the first time. Compassion and adoration swept through my soul. Each time I would see this 2 year-old body, thrashing about, raging in my lap here o the floor and would say: "Go ahead, baby girl. I know this must be so scary and weird, but Daddy and I will not leave you" and would hold her I would think to myself: "this is what abandonment does - this is what a broken heart looks like - this is how terrified she is of having parents who are in it for her alone - this is what terror looks like". The grieving, crying, thrashing, raging lasted a shorter time than I would have expected, only about 40 minutes. I told her: "you may not know this, baby girl, but I have nursed Graham and Ethan, and they both made me sit doing one thing only for like an hour, and then do it again every other hour so trust me, daughter: I can definitely outlast you". At the end of the crying, she was seated on Andrew's lap and reached for me through angry tears, demands spilling with her tears, and I held her right there on his lap - my arms around her and her daddy's arms around both of us. I hear Kari Jobe's "Healer" begin on iTunes, streaming like sunshine through broken clouds, my soul crying out each line. "You hold my every moment, you calm my raging seas..." {Oh Lord, calm these raging seas} "You walk with me through fire, and heal all my disease..." {Oh God, this is fire. Oh God, we need your healing} "I trust in You, Lord, I trust in You. I believe You're my Healer. I believe You are all I need..." {Jesus, my daughter needs healing like the centurion's daughter. Jesus, please heal her} each line a benediction, each line somehow calming her and her tears drying up as quickly as they had begun. Soon, her body melted onto mine like ice cream on a hot sidewalk, her sobs only stifled if her cheek was against mine, her tiny fist curled around my neck. Her face though....her face told her secrets, her eyes confused, her brow permanently furrowed. She is trying to understand why we would take her and do this strange therapy with her. Trying to get through it. But not really interested in us. She retreated in those eyes, back away from the windows and found a little closet to hole up inside of in her heart. She fell asleep in my arms, the exhausted sleep of a child who was waging battle, and when she awoke on my chest she was motionless. She refused to eat even a bite of food, even a sip of water. With every offer of play, fun, food, or words she would turn away and stare off, locked far away and gone from me in her heart. Hiding. And I have such limited time to go and find her...and draw her out. All the drawing out we can stuff into 14 days, it will still be 14 days and we will have to do nothing but trust that though we are leaving the Healer is staying. It may be the steepest mountain of faith I have ever seen looking in the mountain range ahead. 

 For today, I will go to church, I will go grocery shopping, and I will go see my daughter and offer, offer, offer. The Healer will bind my heart and I am trusting He is binding hers. I am exhausted in spirit but renewed with every word you send, every loving word used to heal my own hurt. And so, we go on. Happy Sunday, y'all. Easter is coming. 

love, love, love

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