Sunday, July 10, 2011
The house is far quieter this evening than I have grown used to. With Kenny, Angela and Olesya all off at camp, the four of us are feeling a little lost without their happy chatter surrounding us. The table has the extra leaves removed for the week, and seeing it that way brings to mind the years when it was just Matthew and Joshua, with no hint of the three new loves that we would eventually add to our lives. A little too empty, a little too neat.
Matt, Josh and I were playing triominoes this evening talking about how different it feels. Matt looked up at me and said "I like the way our family is now better than when it was just us. I miss them all. We're not the same without them."
Very, very true.
Sometimes I stop to think about what life would have been like if we had played it safe. After Josh, it would have been quite easy to wipe our brow, say a long "whew!" and not tempt fate. Oh, you have no idea how many times we heard what a big mistake we were making in adopting Kenny, then Angela and Olesya. Well, actually, many of you long time readers DO know as I have blogged off and on about some of the more surprisingly unkind comments that were directed towards us. We were asked everything from how could we possibly consider it after Josh was so "screwed up", to many comments about our financial state of affairs. We were reminded, as if we were somehow quite uninformed, that older child adoption is fraught with risk, and that we would "ruin" our family.
In every way, it would have been easier to remain a family of four. One would think we would have more resources available to us if we had made that choice...more money, more time, more freedom. It would definitely have been less challenging on a daily basis, not dealing with Kenny's cyclical setbacks and academic issues, or Angela and Olesya's emotional baggage.
But then we would have missed feeling this way tonight...we would have missed three people we love dearly and who fill the hole in our lives. We would have missed out on Kenny's high pitched girlie squeal and deep thoughts, Olesya's wholehearted giving nature, and Angela's silliness and depth.
We would have missed nights like last night, the epitome of who we are as a family. We were up late with the kids, and the girls and Matthew were out on the couch with Dominick and I as a thunderstorm rolled in. We sat there quietly talking about camp, what was packed, who might be there this year. BOOM!!! A huge thunderclap made us all jump and the lightning was very nearby. We quickly opened up the blinds and peered out, giving huge "ooohss" and "aaahhhsss" as we enjoyed God's light show.
Angela said "Oh, I like lightning...it's so pretty!" then she added "I didn't like it in Kazakhstan, it scared me." Olesya added "It always made me want to cry, it scared me so much." Angela admitted "I used to put my blankets over my head and hope it went away fast, I hated it."
I asked "So what's the difference now? Is it because you are older?"
Angela looked at me and softly said "The difference is family...I'm safe now." Olesya said "Now it's fun to see, we're not alone and it's not scary with you and Daddy and Matthew here with us."
We all ended up out on the porch, standing there with the wind gently blowing, our faces tipped upward. Matthew had no shirt on and said "I'm cold!! But I don't want to miss it!" and Angela offered him her fleece vest, so he said thanks and put it on, and I wrapped her up in my arms to keep her warm as we watched a way better version of fireworks than we experienced last week. There we stood, swaying gently together, my arms around Angela, Olesya's arms around me. Olesya slipped away and returned a few moments later saying she had gone to check on Joshie and cover him up, as she was worried he might be frightened. Kenny was not enamored of the lightning, electing instead to remain inside with a book in hand which is how he had been the past 2 days...a little miracle in itself. But everyone was accounted for and safe. No one had the urge to hide beneath covers because there were no arms to run to. Here there is a mother and father, sisters and brothers, all caring for one another, and no one will ever be alone again. In the darkness, there is ever present love, and the raging storm changes from terrifying to tantalizing.
I thought about the parallels between the lightening we were witnessing there on our porch last night, and the negative expectations of others as we added to our family. While so many looked at the emotional assault that Josh inflicted upon us and wanted us to shy away from any more painful experiences, all they could see was that lightening can strike twice...and the second time we might not be so fortunate to make it through intact.
The only thing Dominick and I could see was that we had somehow, with God's intervention and support, managed to make it through and a child was healed and whole. We figured that if we made it through that storm, we could somehow manage to weather others as well. The two of us also thought that lightning could indeed strike twice...but for us the lightning strike contained power...light...and love. We were not afraid of the loud thunder clap that precedes the bright bolt, for we knew that was only harmless noise, necessary and frightening, but essentially harmless, and the reward would be the brilliance lighting up the night sky.
Holding Angela in my arms last night, her head leaning upon my shoulder as we quietly whispered to one another, my thoughts raced back to the prickly, terribly hurt child we met a year and a half ago...so scared to love, stubborn in her self-protection and walled up so high it was very hard to scale. Oh, she had an enormous amount of thunder in her that needed to be heard. The vibrations ripped through my heart, and yes, it was terribly painful. So were the nights spent holding her as the pain was finally released from a childhood that was filled with loss, fear and neglect.
But what others are afraid of is also what leads to Lightning Love, the kind that takes you by surprise, catches your very breath with its brilliance, and has power beyond measure. That kind of love is something special, and only those who make it through the storm are lucky enough to be enveloped in it. It is hard earned, and you come out the other side exhausted and yet somehow remarkably you understand that this is God...this is the Spirit at work...and you are amazed to have been allowed to be a part of such a happening.
For some, lightning striking twice symbolizes something to run from, for others it symbolizes hope and something to run straight towards at breakneck speed. It's the same lightning, just seen from two different angles.
Despite the doubts of others, I think I prefer our angle. Lightning Love is the stuff that heaven is made of.
During these waning days of summer, new adults are slowly blossoming and, for one, childhood is very gradually beginning its tentative wave...