Remember this girl??
She’s kind of gone. See the pain and uncertainty in her eyes? That seems to be MIA. You see, we’re dealing with an overload of happy here. A plethora of giggles. A big ol’ load of love. We’re dealing with mornings that start with “Oh! Good morning mama! Did you have a good sleep??” (insert adorable accent) and nights that end with “Y is mama’s baby? Yes? Oh, I love you soooo much mama!” We’re dealing with days of learning how to sign “hang loose”…
and willing little hands and encouraging words to guide each other.
And it’s all just amazing.
It’s not that miss Y was overly unhappy before. It’s not that she was in a horrifically terrible place. Her caretakers loved her and cared for her as much as they could. She wasn’t shut down completely. She wasn’t starved. But an orphanage is no family. Sure, she was often the silly, smiley girl that we now see every day…
(this was the first time I heard her true giggle instead of a forced laugh. I will never forget that moment). BUT, she was also hard, constantly on alert, and ultimately, she was alone. (Or so she thought.)
We’d have an hour of giggles and laughter and goofiness, and then she’s retreat to a seriousness that a child shouldn’t know. She needed that seriousness to keep herself together. It was her protection.
And then we’d break it away again. Laugh again. Hug again. Hope again. And the little girl I knew was inside would come out for a while. She’d relax and let down her guard for a while. She’d try to love for a while (even if it was sometimes a little floppy-ish
And then we were home. Those first few weeks were long. There were hard days. Days when this child seemed so closed off, so shut tight, that it seemed we might never open her heart. Days when we were sleep-deprived and emotionally exhausted. Days when the stimulation of a new home and so much change were just too much for her to process.
Then something funny happened. The days ran together into weeks, and the weeks into a few short months. And I don’t remember each day, each struggle, because they started to become normal. Normally happy. The stuggles faded. The locked up little heart of a five year old opened. I started to notice that her hugs were tighter and her body melted into me instead of remaining stiff. Her eyes looked to us for guidence and her feet followed wherever we would go. And then it just hit me one day. We were living in a realm of happy. Just straight-up, overwhelming happiness. A kind of happiness where this girl smiles more often than not, where we go days without tears, and where I see less and less impact of a hard beginning and more and more impact of a solid kind of love. A love we could have never displayed on our own, but only with the strength of a great and merciful God who first loved us.
And so today, our day was filled with lots of happy normalness and a carefree girl who fits perfectly into that kind of day. It’s a new kind of happy for her. A solid, this-ain’t-going-anywhere, I-don’t-have-to-keep-this-in-check kind of happiness. And I absolutely love it.
And I absolutely love her.