I slept in this morning. It has been a very long time since I have slept in. I wasn't the only one that slept in. Addie and Sosie also slept in. The thing is, the girls and I were up from midnight until about 2 am. After the kids had all gone to bed, I had snuck downstairs to work on the blog. As I was downloading a bunch of photos around midnight, Sosie and Addie came downstairs. They were hungry and wanted a snack. I fixed them a plate of homemade peanut butter cookies and milk. Before I knew it, they were both cuddled next to me on the couch. What happened next will always remain one of my most sacred memories. For the following 2 hours, the girls and I had the most heart-felt and honest conversation, one that I had never imagined possible. We talked about their fears and struggles, all initiated by them. I found this to be the most humbling part because it reminded me that they trust me and that I have an important role in their lives.
We talked about God's love for us and how God is always present even we don't feel like He is. Sosie talked about she often feels like a "lesser" Christian because she struggles with doing the right thing. I just hugged her and assured her that we all feel that way, that I feel that way every day. She seemed completely astounded to hear that I struggle with doing the right thing. It is amazing how we all feel so alone with our personal struggles, that there is no way others can be as "bad" as we are. For a very long time we talked about God's unconditional love, and how irrespective of how bad we are, all we have to do is ask for forgiveness and it is granted immediately!
We also spent a very long time talking about Nina. The girls had so many questions. They wanted me to explain how she had developed the tumor and why it couldn't be surgically removed. They were extremely worried about Nina being in pain! The hardest thing was when Addie asked me if Nina was going to die for sure and what that would look like. I tried not to sob, but the tears flew out as soon as I looked into Addie's piercing blue eyes! It is not fair that these beautiful girls have to to experience such pain so early in their lives!!! They adore their little cousin and are so worried! The three of us cried, with Addie holding back the tears the most. I worry so much about Adelae. I see so much of myself in her. She is so strong, such a giver, but extremely hard on herself. I answered all of their questions as honestly as I could, irrespective of how painful the words were to mutter. After the initial diagnosis, I had talked to Joe and Shannon about being immediately honest with Sosie and Addie since they are older and understand more. It's not that I don't want to be honest with the younger kids but they are less capable of processing the enormity of the situation when we really don't know what to expect ourselves. The time will come for us to be more direct with the younger kids but for now there is no point in burdening them with such severe worries.
As the girls asked questions and I answered, I felt a growing ache in my soul! I held their hands and tenderly rubbed the perfect skin on their calves. They cuddled even closer to me. My heart broke just a little more. Then I told the girls that I was so sad that they had to go through such heartbreak and how I had contemplated just running away with Nina so I could spare everyone grief. I explained that in many ways I'd prefer for people to hate me forever than to see the pain I saw in our families' eyes. What happened next will be seared in my mind forever. Sosie, who had been lying down on the couch with her legs stretched across my lap, instantly sat straight up. She looked at me with the most tender of expressions, heartbroken not just because of Nina but worried for me. She grabbed my hand and said that it wasn't fair that I was always taking care of others and never taking care of myself, that she knew I wanted to protect everyone, that I always put others first, always tried to make everyone happy, but that I needed love too. My mouth dropped and I immediately ceased crying. As an adult, you never know what kids absorb. I try very hard to model love and kindness but feel like I fail miserably! Here was my rascally 15-year old niece, whom I struggled with, telling me she knew who I was, saw me for the love I poured in others! I realized right then and there that she was watching and listening! I realized that I was making an impact. I hugged them both. I didn't want to let go!
We could have probably spent another 2 hours chatting, but thankfully Todd came meandering into the kitchen, in his boxer briefs....causing the girls to burst into hysterics! He proceeded to entertain us with an assortment of bizarre diatribes, perfectly accompanied by his myriad of outrageous accents (ranging from Irish to Mandarin). The girls just laughed hysterically. In fact, we were all laughing so hard that we woke up Papa Gordy, who proceeded to descend the staircase in his glorious blue boxers. The girls and I decided it was time to hit the sack. We had seen enough family members in their undies for one night! Sosie crawled into the bottom bunk with Nina and snuggled tightly. Addie initially crawled into the top bunk, but then within a minute was cuddled right next to me. I tickled her back and kissed her cheek, whispering that I loved her. She didn't say a word, just sighed. I didn't want to cry anymore. I just wanted to sleep in peace, surrounded by the three most beautiful girls in the world. Everything was changing and I desperately wanted to cling to the simplicity of years past, where changing diapers and arranging play activities were the extent of my worries. I don't remember falling asleep. I just did.
After several cups of coffee, I was alert. Brandi had taken care of everyone, breakfast was rolling, and the kids were hopping around with enthusiasm. Nina and Addie helped feed Miss Inga her morning cereal. Nina patiently waited for her turn, laughing at Inga's insistence that she feed herself :) It is so much fun to see Independence emerge in such little beings! Nina was just like that! She wanted to do things for herself as soon as possible and for the most part she conquered things fairly well. I told the girls about how Nina didn't get teeth until 13 months of age and how furious she'd been about eating solids. At Inga's age, Nina was reaching for everything everyone ate and she was not shy about letting us know she was unhappy that we were denying her :) Nina laughed her contagious belly laugh at the description of her reaching for my french fries over and over again to no avail. I love telling her these stories just so I can see her sweet face light up!
Once Inga was done eating, Adelae wiped her mouth and scooped her out of the high chair. I followed the girls as they took Inga upstairs to play on Nana and Papa's bed. I have become obsessed with having my iPhone with me at all times. I just want to be able to capture moments whenever they emerge. In fact, I am so obsessed with having my phone on me at all times that my family and friends have started to comment that I'm developing a disease; but I don't care what they say! I am so thankful that I have this compulsion because I have captured some pretty priceless moments, including the following one:
So....after feeding Inga a cup full of baby cereal, Adelae and Nina proceeded to bounce her around on the bed and tickle her. This didn't seem too bad of an idea to me. Then Addie started to hold Inga over her own head, pretending to make Inga fly. Nina just rolled with laughter at how precious and funny Inga was. Her laughter was so infectious that I started to record video on my phone. Well...the video below may be worthy of sending into America's Funniest Home Videos. In it, you will see Nina laughing hysterically at Addie having Inga fly over her head. I literally warn Addie that something bad might happen (i.e., baby spit-up) when within a second, Inga drops a puddle of spit right into Adelae's eye. The best part is how Addie shrieks but doesn't drop Inga. In true Addie form, she gets up and gently sets Inga down BEFORE proceeding to wipe the spit off her eye :) During all of this Nina is laughing hysterically! I could not believe my luck in capturing this! We spent the rest of the day watching this video over and over again!
Soon after the Incredible Inga Incident, my parents, brother and sister-in-law arrived. It was great to have my folks spend time with Nina and the kids, all of the kids. In essence, Joe's kids are like grandchildren to my parents. They have grown up in front of my parent's eyes and we have spent so much time together. Sosie, Adelae, Silas and Teague even call my parents Vovo and Vava (Portuguese for grandpa and grandma). They love my parents and my parents and Bruno and Michelle love them! The kids especially love that whenever my parents come to visit they bring a boat-load of cookies and treats from the bakery :)
We spent the rest of the afternoon, playing, laughing, talking and just trying to be wrapped up in all the fun around us. I watched my brother attentively dote on his wife. He is so excited about their baby, it gives me chills! Michelle isn't showing but has the "pregnancy glow" written all over her! We are so excited for them! I just can't fathom that my little brother is going to be a father! Secretly I hope that they have a little girl. Bruno is going to fall in love with his child, irrespective if it is a boy or girl, but there is something about a man and his daughter that is incredibly precious and causes them to melt even further! Perhaps it is the instinct that all fathers have about their daughters falling prey to "bad" men. I remember warning Bruno when he was first dating that he should always treat women well because each woman he dated was some one's daughter and that someday he would be a father too. I vividly recall him scoffing at me....he's not scoffing now :) When Nina saw Auntie Michelle, she asked where the baby was. We all laughed and I explained that the baby was growing in Auntie's belly and would be there until April. Nina just stared at Michelle's belly :) before walking off to rejoin Teague and Joe on the stairs.
My parents brought an incredible lunch of tri-tip, chicken and rice. It was fabulous and we all ate like piggies! Once lunch was done, Nina and Addie followed Brandi into her bedroom and helped give Inga a bath. Nina could not get enough of Inga's chubby legs....indeed they are delicious :) Dan and Joe took the boys down to the beach to go searching for shells. Each kiddo had started collecting shells on Friday and their piles were growing! I had an opportunity to go to the store with my dad and tell him a bit more about what the doctors had recently said.
By this time, it had started to rain. My dad and I sat in the car, surrounded by a thunderous downpour and cried together. Prior to this moment, my father and I hadn't had an opportunity to cry together. As strange as it may sound, it felt good! My daddy held my hand and we cried about all of our fears and sadness. Most of all, we cried together for the hope that we all are clinging too! I've come to realize that a good cry is essential. Therapeutically, there is nothing better than releasing all of your sadness and then being able to collect yourself again and press onward! After our cry, we went to the grocery store and Target! Nothing like shopping with your dad after a good cry :) Walking with my dad through the rain toward Target, I felt like I was 15 again, heartbroken over some stupid boy, holding onto my dad's arm and going to get a treat to feel better. My dad had always provided me with security as a child. As a grown woman, it felt amazing that we could equally provide security to one another! I clung to his arm a bit tighter and he smiled at me with his amazing blue eyes. I was thankful!
|Nina with Auntie Michelle, Inga & Baby Matos (in Auntie Michelle's belly as Nina says!)|
By the time my dad and I returned from the store, we found all of the kids upstairs playing Club Penguin. Adelae introduced Club Penguin to Teddy and Nina when she had spent the week with us. Now, the kids were hooked and Todd and I found ourselves playing games for Nina so she can earn enough points to buy accessories for her pets or igloo :) While the kids played Club P, we got things prepared for Teddy and Todd's birthday celebration. Teddy's birthday had been on the 10th and Todd's on the 14th. The kids were completely excited about having cupcakes and ice cream sundaes.