This morning I awoke to the familiar sounds of a wire whisk scraping the sides of a scarred mixing bowl.
And I thought of her.
With uncharacteristic solemnity, two girls offered dutiful "Happy Mother's Day" while dumping a fresh-from-the-griddle pancake in my hand. And we laughed.
I wondered if she had laughed today.
A certain baby of the family insisted the pancake was hers. I fed her only a nibble, despite her protests. A corner of my heart squeezed at the thought of sustaining life with such a meager nibble.
She had tried. She had desperately clung to fading hope.
Lastly, one more entered the room, flinging herself on the bed for a restless snuggle. A little prompting..."Happy Mother's Day". She craned her neck to see my face. Like most people, I am drawn to her deep, liquid eyes.
And I see her look of defeat as pools threaten to betray her glossy resolve.
Seventeen minutes, and ticking...
Just a day earlier, I sucked a breath into constricted lungs as I heard the words "You'll always be my mama. I'm so glad you adopted me."
We share the lump in my throat, she and I.
"Children born to another woman call me Mom. The depth of that tragedy and magnitude of that privilege are not lost on me." ~ Joy LandersThe clock blinks 12:01, and just like that The Day is done. She and I have checked another day off the calendar. Though I may never again see her this side of Heaven, I carry her with me every day. Oh, I don't keep her picture in my wallet. I keep her heart tucked into mine. How? I hold her despite having the wrong arms. I double-check her toothbrushing job. I slice her sandwich from corner to corner. I dive into books and icy cold swimming pools with her. I wince as she wobbles on raised training wheels, and dance when she keeps her balance. I scold when she hits, and I kiss when she hurts.
And I look into haunting eyes, wishing that hope had bloomed into possibilities, and possibilities into reality, and reality into wholeness.
Instead there is irreparable brokenness, of which our daughter is the shared fallout. Yes, I love her fiercely, but I wish my love was not necessary in the first place. I wish the woman who loved her first could continue to see her firsts; Her first school day, her first date, her first...everything. Instead, I will be the mama to celebrate those firsts. Those moments are not stolen, nor are they merely borrowed. They are shared in the most intimate, most anguished, and most cherished way possible. And I am grateful.
Her arms were, at the same time, perfect and inadequate and beautiful. Her image is too sacred to parade across the screen of some blog. Her face, too precious to squander on blog hits. This is the most you'll ever see of this strong woman:
And it is enough.