18 years ago, through a haze of pain, sweat, and joyful anticipation, she came into the world.
So small. So beautiful. So ours.
And she was a she. A girl!
A girl I hoped I could pass on my love of reading to…all my favorite books and stories. A girl I could share my favorite movies with. A girl I could shop with. A girl I could dress up (as long as she’d let me). A girl who would begin as my daughter and hopefully, one day, become my friend.
And she was born in our little flat, 8 stories high, in Delft, The Netherlands. On Animal Day.
Yes, in our home. All natural. No meds. My claim to fame. (All three, mind you.)
I held her close, breathed in her scent…examined her perfect fingers and toes.
And my cheeks were wet.
I felt, suddenly, the weight of being her mother. I wanted to be perfect, but I knew I wouldn’t be. I wanted to protect her, shield her but would I be the one who would wound her? With my words, my sin, my humanness???
Grace. I knew I would fall short. Grace. I knew I couldn’t be the perfect mom. Grace. Was I up to the task? Grace.
Yes. Grace. I could only pray that where I fell short, in oh so many ways, God’s grace would fill the gaps.
The girl who was born on Animal Day, would turn out to be an animal whisperer. She should have been born on a farm or a ranch. Instead, there she was in Holland…surrounded by more asphalt than green spaces, contenting herself with sporadic trips to the neighborhood Petting Zoo.
The girl who was born in Holland, learning Dutch as her first language with English on the side, gave up her homeland at the age of 9 for the sake of her younger (deaf) sister’s education. She flew across the ocean and found herself surrounded by trees and fields, instead of homes and cobblestone streets. Riding a bike would constitute laps around a neighborhood, instead of actually using the bike to go somewhere, like the store, Oma’s house or a park. Dutch schoolwork traded in for English. Dutch culture traded in for southern americana. And she tried. But, my European girl was and still is….European.
My twirling little dancer would grow up to take on dance and ballet at a later age than most. Her passion, practice and love for this art form would propel her forward.
Baby. Little Girl. Young Woman. Woman.
Yes, she loves the books I love. And movies. She appreciates the classics in both. Her style is impeccable and she has hair/make-up abilities definitely not inherited from me. She is strong. A leader. A lover of God. A faithful friend. Sensitive. Witty. Confident.
And, that daughter…well, she’s becoming my friend.
Just a few short months, and she will fly away. Back home. Yes. The home of her heart. Holland. She will reconnect with the life she lost. Her family and friends. It’s so easy for people to forget she had a life before here. But, she did. And it was a good one.
How can we let her go, you ask?
How can we not?
I was 18 once. I flew to Holland on a mission trip, met my future husband and my life was made forever richer.
But, for now…I close my eyes and feel that sweet baby placed upon my chest. I hear her first cries. I exclaim, “I have a girl!” I stare at her in wonder. I laugh. I cry. Her hand grabs my finger and holds on for the first time.