Claire turned 9 today.
It was a day to delight in her. She loved putting up balloons and streamers. She had a ball decorating the windows with crystal window markers. She couldn't wait for her cake and her presents.
My heart rejoiced as I snuggled with her this morning and listened to her tell me that 8 was all gone and now she is 9. What a miracle! This precious little girl who wasn't supposed to live at all is a beautiful 9 year old who loves to demonstrate how "strong" and "smart" she is to anyone who will pay attention. God has been so good to Claire. I'm so blessed to walk down the street holding her hand, or to sing a silly song with her, or to get to work beside her, "mixing" supper or folding laundry.
My heart also felt overwhelming sadness today. While we were snuggling this morning, Ben came in to say goodbye before heading off to work. He bent over to hug Claire and his tie swung forward. Claire batted it for a long time—like a kitten. Nothing wrong with that, but my heart ached for this little child to have thoughts and ideas, to understand something more than the simple motion of a swinging tie. Claire is 9. She can't dress herself, or care for her body without a lot of help. She can't count objects. She can't speak a sentence in Chinese or English. She doesn't play with toys. She can't write her name or tell you where she lives. She can't open a door or buckle a seat belt. She doesn't communicate anything on a thought level.
I long to know my little girl. But all I know is when she is hungry or wants me to take her to the bathroom. I know that she resists learning with all her might, leaving me exhausted and longing for bedtime long before it is really time to turn out the lights. I want her to be okay. I want her brain to be healed just like her heart. I want to be able to tell her the incredible story of God's love for her, but the empty tomb of Easter doesn't have much meaning for a child who still doesn't consistently demonstrate object permanence.
I confess that sometimes I feel angry and I'm guilty of wanting God to explain to me why He healed her heart and her lungs, but left her brain so damaged. I love her so much. I want her to be okay. I want her to be able to read, and sew, and knit. I want her to be able to play a game or participate in a discussion.
Then, I'm reminded that God loves her more than I ever could. He is still good. His plan is still being carried out whether I see it or not. So, now I ask God to show me how to love Claire the way He does—through her stubbornness and disability to the heart of who God has created her to be with abilities and disabilities all wrapped up in one sweet package. Happy Birthday, Claire. I love you.
"Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way…God can give us the perfect way."~~Corrie ten Boom