Tuesday

I realized that I wouldn't be doing justice to the previous post without showing the beginnings of the story. This is Q just a day or two after we officially became her parents in the adoption office in Nanjing. I have happier photos - because she did lie down and giggle with us, give us glimpses of that radiant smile, even in the first few days. But this one shows more clearly what a shock it must have been. She is dazed in this photo, glassy-eyed. She was also very underweight and sick with parasites, and her beautiful skin did not look entirely healthy. Many children coming from an orphanage bed at her age (11 months) could not even sit up on their own. At this age, many of them are still confined to a crib and haven't had the chance to build any muscle tone. Q, we learned, had taught herself to sit up by threading her feet through the bars of her crib and dragging herself upright. This initiative on her part meant that she already had a surprisingly strong core, though she could not, of course, stand up. Her leg muscles were very underdeveloped and it would be months before her legs could even support her in a crawl.

This semi-shock that you see in this picture lasted through two weeks in China, and maybe the first three or so weeks at home. That part is a blur to me because I was, of course, also in a bit of shock, and also because I'd caught her parasites and was very, very sick for the first weeks home. Once I had recovered somewhat from my own illness, her sunny nature had already prevailed. Finished with his "baby leave", my husband had gone back to work, and as I grew stronger, I spent the days working in my studio with her rolling and playing on a flokati rug beside me. I quickly learned the charm of that smile and that rusty giggle, which would draw me inexorably from my work.

She has had two major surgeries since we brought her home. The recovery from these is lengthy and painful. During the second surgery, she stopped breathing four times while attempting to come out of anesthesia. It's tough for such a tiny body to make it through a three or four hour surgery. Still, she remains fearless and undeterred. She has never been either resentful or marked by her experience. Much more than the pain, it is the confinement that irks her the most. Wearing arm splints during the recovery period enrages her. Even compromised, even in pain, she's rarin' to go, wild to move on to bigger and better things.

One could learn so much from this tiny child, bundled and left on a stoop at three days old, unable to even eat on her own. Her resilience, her spirit, her optimism, her utter absence of resentment against her lot in life, her fierce ambition. I began by trying to imagine how I would go about teaching her all the things she needs to know about the world. Instead, she has apparently been put on this earth to teach me all the things I needed to know about this world. Isn't life a wonderful mystery?

17 comments:

Caterina B said...

What a beautiful and touching tribute to your daughter's spirit!

Horseartist said...

To answer your last question, Yes, it is. It's a wonderful journey to discover the lessons that all the beings in our life bring. I am so glad that you have QQ to explore this with and she you.

Sabine, La Marquise des anges said...

thank you so much for sharing this moving with us .. this is so beautiful and so touching ... I feel closer to you now and I do feel to some positive energy flooding in my veins ...I am crying ... you bith lucky to cross each other paths ...

Lorna said...

Bless youu for the love that you brought to this little child.

~Lorna
____________________________________

Yoli said...

Oh Maia, I don't need to tell you what an amazing child she is and how much we have all come to love her through your words.

Shaista said...

Life is most definitely a mystery and people themselves are mysterious beings. The wonder of it is having time with those we love to soak up the myriad colours and textures of their mysteries. Thankyou for posting these thoughts and the beginnings of your story.

Margaret said...

This was such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing!

Maia said...

Exactly.

And I do so love the fact that you write about her with such care and love - because someday she'll come back to read your words, and there will be this lovely record of how you fell in love with your daughter.

Gillian said...

Oooh she found you! How wonderful. She is beautiful. I read once somewhere that our children find us and that warmed me to the core. It made me see my own children differently. Oh they do teach us all the time. It is the young who are wise on this planet. xo

FDChief said...

Thank you, Maia, for this love letter to your little girl. May you and QQ swim out together out into the great, deep ocean of love for your whole lives long.

thatgirlblogs said...

her eyes have never changed. so beautiful.

Geisslein said...

your lovely posts often bring me to tears...this post does it too. I´m blown away about your words so full of love. yes, life is full of wonders and mysterie and I am happy for you, that heaven has sent this beautiful little girl to you.

Jeanne-ming said...

Dear one,
I agree QQ WAS brought to you to teach you and your husband. But I also believe she came to teach ALL of us who follow you. I have learned so much from you and have become a better and more observant mother myself. I learned that from YOU! My baby is 16! It's never too late!

lovepics said...

maia l'histoire de ta fille me touche au plus profond de moi... tes mots sont d'une force inimaginable et me font penser que votre rencontre était écrite... vous étiez destinées l'une à l'autre...

nath said...

thank you for this moving and realistic account. It's all too easy to forget the truth behind the whole process of adoption. And all the upheavals it comes with. Also shows us the strength of children. A big lesson in humility for us as adults, all to easy to (sometimes) complain about our lot...

alliot said...

It's touching! Q is tough and magnanimous. I love her eyes, they always reveal a little secret, she's courageous.

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

I don't have anything adequate to say. So let me just say...thank you. You're a beautiful person. And your daughter is growing up to be equally beautiful.