I hear a soft whimpering cry coming from her wooden crib in the corner. My feet hit the tile floor and I grab a match and a candle to navigate. The electricity has been off for almost two days straight. I glance at the clock. 2:08am. I check her diaper. Dry. She doesn’t seem hungry. I take her temperature. Normal. She continues to cry. I scoop her up and place her in my bed. Might be night terrors. Institutionalization has major effects on children long after they’ve come home. Maybe a bad dream. I rub her back and stroke her hair and whisper, “Mama’s here. It’s okay. You are safe. I love you” and she drifts back to sleep. These moonlight stricken moments. They’re so sacred to me.
We are in a public bus on our way to bi-weekly physical therapy sessions. She’s strapped to my chest and looking out the window at the people passing. I overhear a group of older women in the backseat talking about her. “Why is she white and that child black? Why does that child have those things on her feet? She must have problems. Who would want a child that isn’t healthy?” I turn around and respond in the local language. Giving grace and educating them on special needs and adoption. They just laugh back at me and continue their ridiculing. She continues to look out the window and smile with her hair blowing in the breeze. “You’re perfect” I tell her.
After a long day we shut the front door and walk outside. Yellows and pinks and oranges greet us in the form of blossoming flowers. I stick one behind her ear. She smiles. I toss her up in the air and catch her again. She releases a loud and excited laugh that only could come from the deepest parts of her body. She look me right in the eyes. That’s it. That’s the sparkle and light that captures me. The look that she gives that reassures me that God aligned the moon and the stars just for her to be in my arms today. I throw her up into the blue sky again. She doesn’t look scared or worried, because she knows I will be there to catch her, time and time again, for forever.
Love looks like the 2am wake ups & putting on armor time and time again & being careless and free. Love is messy. Love is joyful. Love is hard. Love is the in-between moments. Love is smiles & glances & belly laughs. Love is standing up when you are weak & moving forward when you are weary. Love is worth it.
This is what love looks like for us.