We had marked this day on your calendar several weeks ago. On the Bethel missions calendar that you hung up next to your bed, a small anchor in the winds of change, signs that time is passing and that you notice. We talked about days of the week, different here, of course. And about our schedule. Somehow you figured out that a cross represents Jesus and you marked a cross above all the Sundays in the month of April. We wrote big sister’s name big on April 4th, her birthday, and we drew an egg on Easter Sunday and I told you about hunting eggs, the whole story of Easter seeming much too complex to explain across the language barrier.
So it was last night, after a full day of festivities, that we talked again about the calendar as you x’d the day off, as you do each evening, mimicking your brother and sister’s habit. It had been a full day of firsts. A day when we filled an Easter basket for each of you – something we do sometimes, not always. Your brother got a massive squirt gun, your sister a beautiful wallet, you got cinderalla glass slippers and a gorgeous dress and a ring. We went to church and celebrated Jesus there with all our friends. And back at home we worked hard together on our feast, carving a watermelon bunny, filling the devilled eggs, smelling the wonderful scents of briskett cooking. With all our friends we ate and swam in the pool and then hunted Easter eggs in the tall grasses and woods behind our house. Down in the dry creekbed we hunted, and you were the one who found the giant golden egg filled with money. We put some yuan in there too, just in case you found it. All week you have hoped to find that one special egg. Your face was priceless.
And then, after goodbyes and cleaning up, and a Jesus movie where you first saw his story all-the-way-through, and a bath . . . . then, we were in the bedroom, checking off the day on your calendar, getting you dressed for bed.
You looked ahead on the calendar to the next big days we have marked; Naomi leaving for Mexico and my birthday while she is gone. Then one special day at the end of the month, marked with a heart. `You asked me what that day was again? And I acted out a wedding ceremony “wo ai ni David!” “wo ai ni Annelise!” the rings being put on and the smooching. You lit up. You too acted it out, then with a slight pause, you showed my belly growing big with your hands rounding over it. “Baby!” “hi, jie jie” (big sister came out!), then again “baby! hi gu gu” (big brother came out). Then a slight pause again and then you said. “finished!” “Lianga” (two of them.)
And in that moment of breath I realized while still holding mine, that you were asking where you came into the story, looking for whether you are our real child, wondering, being conscious thought and far beyond spoken expression, what family looks like for you. It was so subtle, really, I could have easily missed it. And so profound that it is your entire search for identity in a simple pantomime.
And I said quickly “not finished!!!!” And I fluttered my hand over my heart, beating it lightly, as if I was excited, as if someone was being born from my heart. I said ” Where is Ava??” with a look of concern, and anticipation and wonder. I held my hand up over my eyes, looking all around as if searching. And then I opened my arms wide and said ” There is Ava!!!” and you rushed in. And I hugged you big and gave a big sigh, and then I said. “Finished. Sanga.” (three of them)
And then you hugged me so hard, kissed me all over, laughed wild in my face and jumped into my arms. Your whole body telling me that you understood, that you knew you were the longed-for third child, not some add on extra.
Yes, you fit here, baby girl. Made for this family. Born into our hearts just as the others were born from my belly. We love you Ava-girl, our third born, our treasure. We could not love you more.