Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Elsa's Scars

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Elsa has some rather big scars on her arms and legs. Naturally, we've wondered about them - what caused them, how old they are, etc.

Donald pointed to one last night and said,

"Elsa, what is this from?"

"Fire," she replied.

"Fire? Did you burn yourself?"

"No. Sister." 

"Your sister burned you?" Donald confirmed.

"Yes," said Elsa, referring to her biological sister in Ethiopia.

"Was it an accident?" I asked.

"Yes," said Elsa.

"Did she get in trouble?"

"Yes,"  she replied with a smile - and we all started giggling.

We were amazed. Amazed that she was talking to us about her past; about her family in Ethiopia.

A short while later, as we were tucking her into bed, she started crying. We gathered around her - Donald, the older girls, and myself. We embraced her.

It was a big moment; one where we were able to show Elsa that it is okay to remember where she came from, it is okay to think of her mother and siblings, it is okay to mourn for the life she left behind; it is okay to acknowledge that she has been through big things.The truth is that Elsa has a past. That past is with her still - in the memories she carries and the scars she wears. Yes, she bears our family name, but that doesn't erase or diminish the importance of her own personal heritage.

As we hugged her my mind raced through the parenting classes we had taken as part of the adoption process. And then my thoughts shifted to our case worker and the advice she would give. How do I handle this? What's the right thing to do? Then I stopped and realized that I am a mother. I don't need parenting classes or social workers. I just need to follow my intinct, my heart. So I held her close and let her cry.

This morning Elsa was back to her bubbly, smiley self. We drove the girls to school and she helped me get Elisabeth onto the school bus. Then it was just the two of us.

I went into the parlor and started playing the piano. Elsa followed along and sat by my side. As my fingers moved across the keys I glanced over at Elsa, and she glanced back at me. We smiled, we understood each other.

I kept playing, going through the same music several times over. Meanwhile, Elsa started rearranging the nativity set on top of the piano: wise men here, sheep there - and last but not least, she put baby Jesus on the roof.

"Elsa?" I asked.

"Yes?" she said.

"I will always be here for you. I will hug you on days when you are sad and I will hug you on days when you are happy."

She responded with a content,"Okay."

Elsa wrapped her arms around me and kissed my cheek. 
Then she rested her head on my shoulder and I started playing again. 

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