It’s important to preface the following story as I wrote it by hand in my journal and that is a miracle. I usually type everything. I also wrote it as life was unfolding, totally in the moment. Nothing was added later. I’ve just now happened upon it. I wish I had found it a week ago, just before Hope’s 9th birthday. But, still, it is ‘print-worthy’ for our blog. Here goes…

July 22, 2014

Eight years ago Blaine and I were on our way to China. Eight years! Where have they gone?! Hope is sitting on the floor here in our family room, still in her PJs at 10:09am, cutting strips of multi-colored, herringbone-patterned duct tape. She’s making a braided bracelet.

If she were in China, what would she be doing? She wouldn’t speak English; she wouldn’t make lemonade/kiwi/strawberry/lime slushies in a food processor (like she did yesterday). She wouldn’t be our daughter. Her thick, silky, wavy black hair cascades down her back. Would it be chopped short with harsh bangs if she weren’t our daughter?

‘Weren’t our daughter’…I don’t like those three words strung together…AT ALL! Because she just called, “Mommy, where did I put…oh, never mind.” She was looking for her dee-dee (her favorite blanket).

Then she asked, “What’s your favorite Christian song? You want to know mine? It’s ‘Oceans’.” (We’re listening to K-LOVE.)

Her comments and questions continue, as I sit here writing this.

Oceans. They would have separated us had this little Chinese girl not become our daughter. Geographical oceans. Philosophical oceans. Material oceans. Every type of ocean, real and metaphorical, imaginable.

I can’t imagine what life would be like if those oceans existed. I would drown in this ocean called life without Hope.

A few days before school ended for summer, I didn’t get home from shopping before her school bus arrived. She just recounted that five minutes of fear to me about thirty minutes ago. I actually had to stop writing this to discuss it with her (we’ve talked about it several times since it happened…it truly created a ‘worry’ in her heart).

She asked what I would have done if she didn’t come home. That comment elicited the memory from now twelve years and almost four months ago. My heart sank. I asked Hope what it felt like to her to discover that I wasn’t home.

“Scared, Mommy! Really scared and worried!” she shared, yet again.

“But I came home,” I comforted.

I told her I didn’t want her to imagine that she wouldn’t come home because I knew what that felt like when Wes and Andy never came home again. I knew it was heavy stuff for her, but we’ve talked about the boys many times through the years, each time giving her answers that seemed to ‘satisfy’ her questions. How am I to know what is too much or too little? I am a realist; I want her to be one as well.

I noticed her expression change, if ever-so-slightly. I think she understood what I was trying to say, as much as an 8 ½ year old is able.

These eight years since she became our daughter have held much life and death. Watching Hope grow, learn, live so fully, yet witnessing my own sister, ridden with dementia, deteriorate, ‘un-learn’, and die in seven of these eight years has taught me much about my purpose on this planet. Probably as much as Wes and Andy’s deaths have taught me.

Oceans of life. I pray each day I will be open to wave-upon-wave as my remaining days wash over me. May they drown me with laughter, love, and life. May Hope also learn this, as her life unfolds. And whether this life is full of joy or sorrow (and both will occur), I pray that Hope will always know that her life has a secure Home.