|Matilda at sunset. Photo credit: Maeve Harrington|
I'm not known for painting rosy pictures. I try to be as honest as I can here, all the time. If my over-arching goal is to help other adoptive parents, I don't have the right to be anything BUT brutally honest. And so, sometimes, I avoid this blog because things are tough and I feel I don't have any words of wisdom to share. Sometimes I have to wait till I see the light.
We've been home one month now, and it has been overwhelming, scary, confusing, frustrating, exhausting, and downright yucky. It didn't help that I got horribly sick right after Christmas and didn't get better for 24 days. 24 days of fever, coughing, lying in bed, wishing I could die. Yes, it felt that bad. And the fact that it came on the heels of our arrival home felt like a slap in the face. The first month was going to be hard enough - why did I have to feel like I was on my deathbed on top of that? So, yes, I had some days where I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I couldn't even communicate with anyone, because my voice was gone. If it weren't for my neighbor pinch hitting for me, I don't know what I would have done. She was a lifesaver. She watched Matilda during the day, took her to her swimming classes, went food shopping for us, and the list goes on. I am grateful in ways only other moms could understand!
But now, the light emerges. The fever gone, the coughing subsided. I reenter the land of the living, and - despite my guilt - Matilda has not only survived this challenging month, but she's thrived. In some ways, sickness intensifies the bonding. She and Nastia had to rely on each other for everything, because I was incapacitated. There were some ugly fights, but for the most part, I watched my girls transform into sisters. There were sleepovers, there were baking marathons, and igloo-building snowy afternoons. There were tearful outpourings of grief, and a big sister comforting the little one feeling so lost. It was a month of mountainous highs and heartbreaking lows, emotionally speaking - for both girls - and I watched most of it unfold in tiny slivers from the open door to my bedroom, as I lay there waiting for healing to come.
Last night I was finally feeling well enough to get some bills paid and emails returned. As I sat at my computer, I heard squeals of laughter from upstairs. After a good twenty minutes, my curiosity got the best of me and I headed up. In the bathroom I found two girls in swimsuits, huddled in the tub, covered in a million colorful balls of swirling water. They had filled the tub with these:
And they were having the time of their lives 'swimming' in this 3D rainbow. I stayed and watched for awhile, but then left them to their 'work' -- and two hours later they were still there. At 10pm, they emerged like prunes from their watery playground, only to move the playing into Nastia's room - where they laughed and laughed until well after midnight, cuddled up together in a tight nest of giggles and squeals. I interrupted their play just long enough to go in and say their prayers with them. Matilda started:
'God? Thanks for everything...thanks for my Mom and my sister. Thanks for the snow and for our animals...thanks for food and Grammy....and please send angels to every single person in the whole world and help them.'
Then Nastia added, " Yeah, thanks for everything, God.'
I'm feeling very blessed.