Sunday September 25, 2010
Nina woke up and rolled toward me so that she was a mere millimetre away from my face. I opened my eyes to find her smiling, beaming right at me. She leaned in even closer and whispered, "I'm so glad Adelae is here!" She kissed my nose twice and giggled before rolling onto her other side so that she was facing Addie. She then wrapped her arms around her cousin's neck and started to giggle. Within a minute, Adelae was giggling right along side her. The morning was filled with continuous giggles and laughter. I might as well have been listening to the choirs of angels singing the most glorious of melodies! I made sure that my parents had the kids and then I returned to the bedroom, closed the door, pulled the covers over my face and cried silently! I thanked God for the gift of Adelae. She is a miracle in our lives, in Nina's life. I cried and wished for the most horrible of things....that the world would end right then. This way, my life would end in pure happiness and joy, with the sound of my two children, niece, parents, and husband enjoying life. But the world did not come to an end. So I cried.
|Adelae brushing Nina's hair! What a great cousin!|
I have become a pro at crying secretly and silently. In fact, I can actually cry so quietly now that my tears seem to not come out but rather pour into me. As bizarre as it sounds, I can actually taste my own tears without a single tear ever touching my lips. As I lay underneath layers of soft cotton, my heart was compelled to call my sister-in-law (technically my former sister-in-law since she and Todd's brother got divorced a couple of years ago). Shannon (my sister-in-law and Adelae's mother) and I had been extremely close for years. When her marriage to Todd's brother fell apart, our relationship had been severely wounded. I had not agreed with many of Shannon's decisions and had decided to harden my heart against her. Now in my darkest of hours she had lovingly agreed to share her most beloved daughter with me, so that my dying daughter would have her greatest companion at her side, bringing her joy! My heart hurt!!! How is it possible to experience pain in so many different ways?? I called Shannon. I thanked her for sharing her treasure with us and I asked her to forgive my hard heart. We cried together, hundreds of miles apart, we cried together. For a long time, we cried together. Little had I known when I met her 13 years ago that her daughters, whom I had always loved and cherished as my own, would one day bless my life this way. If I did not get my miracle of a long life with Nina, Sosie and Adelae would be the closest thing to a daughter I would have for the rest of my life. I thanked Shannon for allowing me to always have been in her children's lives, even when I had behaved so hatefully toward her! We cried and we reminded each other of how much we loved one another.
Every turn of this journey has been a huge piece of humble pie!! Prior to calling Shannon, I realized how Christ had never hardened His heart toward humanity. In fact He did the exact opposite; He so loved the world and every broken soul in it that He lay His own life, freely and willingly. I thought about this for a long, long time. If God could love us all, not out of obligation but out of complete sincerity, and never hard His heart toward us, then why did I allow my heart to harden toward others?? Obviously there is right and wrong but God does not harden His heart toward us when we choose wrong (which for me can be a minute by minute scenario); instead His heart breaks for us as He reaches out to us. Why did I harden my heart toward others? I'm not saying that I should condone wrong behavior, but if God is willing to love me and not harden His heart toward me after all the shit I have done, then why couldn't I do the same??? Not only has God not hardened His heart toward me, He has poured His mercy and grace over me! The beauty of humility is that people are moved by it. As Shannon and I spoke, I could feel God's grace pouring over us, and through our tears I thanked Him for the gift of softened hearts!
After speaking to Shannon, I took a long, steaming hot shower. Normally, there is nothing more soothing for me than a steaming shower. But today....today I probably should have taken a cold shower, or at least a tepid one, because when I got dressed I realized that it wasn't just the bathroom that was scorching hot....the entire condo was!!! It was 9:30am in Santa Barbara and it was hot!!
Let me reiterate it again, today was hot! My parents and Adelae had driven up from Turlock (Central California) and brought the heat with them. Unfortunately, unlike homes in the Central Valley, most of the homes in Santa Barbara do not have air conditioning. By the time it was noon the sweltering heat had reached almost 90 degrees and we were suffocating.
After a quick lunch, Nina suggested that we go to the beach! Everyone was thrilled! For the past month, Nina had refused to do most things other than eat, lounge, and eat some more. Adelae's presence motivated her unlike anything else! My parents both beamed with gratitude for being here and spending time with "Happy Nina". Her response to treatment was already a miracle and we praised God for it with every beat of our hearts.
|Sharing arroz con pollo with Vava!|
We went to the beach. Nina refused to be strolled very far; instead she wanted to walk like her brother and Addie. She even willed herself to the water's edge and played for a few minutes. Then she quietly requested to sit down on the sand and watched her brother and cousin play in the waves. She did not complain about not being able to run or keep up with Teddy and Addie but I could tell a part of her was sad. I am very competent at restraining myself and shoving my heart's desire deep, deep, deep down and out of sight. Teddy is not very good at this; in fact he is the opposite. He is impulsive about what he wants and does not easily discipline himself to put other's first. I have always thought that this was a huge problem and have diligently worked on trying to help him remedy his natural tendencies. I am beginning to think that neither my way nor his way are adaptive; perhaps somewhere in the middle. I have also noticed that my daughter is very much like me in this sense. I watched her sit on the sand, willing herself to be okay with just watching as her brother and cousin enjoyed the freedom of childhood. She did not cry, she did not complain, she did not lie down and go to sleep. On the contrary, she willed herself to just be there. I was so happy that she had decided to come to the beach and do something fun but I also ached for her, a deep and pounding ache.
|"I can walk!" Nina insists instead of riding her stroller!|
|Playing in the water with Addie.|
|Watching Teddy & Addie play in the waves.|
|Fun in the sun!|
|The Fredeen girls working on their tans :)|
|Wet, Wild, & Wacky! What more could you ask for on a hot day?|
After about 30 minutes at the beach, Nina declared that it was too hot at the beach and wanted to go to the pool. We packed up and headed back home. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the pool side, eating, laughing, playing, and have a wonderful time together! The only thing that could have made my day better would have been a Margarita machine and a little Oompa-Loompa whose responsibility was to ensure that my Margarita glass was always full :)
|Swimming with Adelae! Life is great!|
|Hanging out with best friends Cami and Katie.|
|Teddy & Addie zooming along!|