Sunday nights are usually mellow around the Davenport home/asylum. Make it a summer Sunday evening and the kids/inmates are in relaxed and often silly moods. Recently we have taken to attending the Sunday evening service at Watermarke because it better fits our night-owl regiment and puts us in prime seating for our choice of restaurant afterwards. Yep, I said that.
So here we are, lazily corralling the youngsters towards their rooms when the order to locate and then wear their night clothes comes down (being specific helps when the population outnumbers the administration by 2 to 1). I am sitting on the bed sliding through nonsense on my phone when Meili comes up to me and tries to tell me something in broken words. I have to admit that the Ruby Tuesday salad bar has lulled me into a semi-nap state and the slow summer pace is settling in nicely. It takes some effort to understand Meili sometimes and my goal is always to get their before she resorts to those pitiful hand gestures. Although it is cute to see her little digits make symbols, I don’t ever want her to feel self-conscious about anything. So I start tossing out guesses left and right…
“You don’t want to put on your night clothes?!?”
“You want to go to the pool?!?”
“Someone hurt you?!?”
“The Doctor hurt you?!?”
Reality interrupts my peaceful evening…
“You don’t want to go to the Doctor because they are going to hurt you!”
With glossy eyes and frowning lips, Meili vigorously shakes her head to affirm my understanding. She knows. Somehow, she always knows.
While I was thinking about reading a book or watching some TV, Meili was worrying about what is waiting for her this Friday. Truthfully, I don’t think about it and often make a conscious effort to suppress any thoughts about taking my daughter to another surgery. I have work, responsibilities and hobbies to keep my mind off it. Meili has little else to do but play and wrestle with telling her Mommy or Daddy how afraid she is of going to the Doctor.
This Friday, we are taking Meili for her third surgery since we got her (she had one surgery in China as well). After two massive operations on her palate – both followed by enormous pain and long healing periods, she is going in for a procedure to correct part of her nasal and scar tissue. Most importantly, if all goes well, this will be an outpatient procedure. I would love to give you details about the procedure but, in all honesty, Tracy is far better with that information. I have my questions when we visit Dr. Williams together but I mostly shy away when the conversation gets personal. And by personal, I mean when the discussion turns to how much hurt Meili will feel and how long it will take to get back to normal. Tracy’s strength gives me that luxury – there is more than one reason she gave birth!
That might sound crass to you but understand that when it comes to my children, I feel everything. I feel their pain, their elation, their hurt, their aggravation, their confusion, their happiness, and their sadness. I am like an emotional sponge to my kids and sometimes, to be the Dad I need to be, I have to turn it all off. Don’t get me wrong, Tracy feels it all too but that is why we make a good team. One of us is always in “the zone!”
When Meili goes to this place (which isn’t often), we try to distract her with something shiny or pink. However, this time I felt like we should dwell on the topic a little longer. Maybe distracting her was not helping her – maybe she wanted to talk about it a little bit. Maybe she just wanted her tiny little voice heard?!?
So there we sat, talking about surgeries and pain and healing and the future. Have you ever had a conversation about real pain with a frightened 4 year old? It will shake you to your core. But we didn’t make the choice to adopt our special needs princess because we were looking for comfort. We adopted Meili for moments just like this. It takes the trembling hand of a strong little girl sometimes to truly touch your heart in way you would have never known without her.
As her skinny arms poked through the arm holes of her nightshirt, our conversation about Friday came to a close. I could not take away the expected hurt or resolve her fear of the Doctor. All I could promise her is that Mommy and Daddy would be there for everything. We were not going to leave her side and it would all eventually be all better. She laughed at me and ran off to answer the call of her sister. I was left in silence to ponder greater questions.
Some of us have been given a life free of major bumps and bruises. And some of us are required to overcome at every turn. The overcomers are here to remind us of what potential we all have to make a difference. For Meili, it is our calling to provide this little overcomer a place for rest when the obstacles are far too great – a home in every sense of the word. We love you Meili – welcome home!