A letter to my daughter:
I had hoped this Christmas would be easier to face than last. Last Christmas, I was so sure. So very, very sure that I would have you. A year and a half was longer than anyone had ever waited for their baby to come home from China and I was so sure you would make it home by then.
When it became clear you weren't coming home for Christmas, your brothers put up a little stocking for you anyway and filled it will old Halloween candy and a few of their favorite Matchbox cars. Take my word for it, this was a huge indication of love for their baby sister.
I cried a lot last Christmas, looking at that little stocking. Envying all the moms who had all of their children beneath their roof. Struggling to explain to others why I missed you when I've never met you.
It's hard to explain instant, overwhelming, life-long love for the child you know is coming to someone who hasn't experienced it. It sounds crazy. Grieving for you sounds crazy but I do it anyway.
This Christmas it's been 2 and 1/2 years and China just keeps slowing down the process. I don't have any firm deadline in mind anymore. I wish people would stop asking me because I can get along alright if I don't think about you.
I'm sorry about that. I try not to think of you because if I do, I wonder, are you born yet? Do you live in an orphanage or are you one of the lucky few in foster care? Are you warm enough? Does someone care if you cry at night? I want to get on the next plane to China and search the orphanages because I will know you when I see you. My heart already knows you.
Saturday night, at work, someone asked me about waiting for you. I answered, barely, then kept cleaning the kitchen and Christmas carols were playing and it was one of my favorites: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. I heard the line "Next year all our troubles will be miles away" and it broke me.
I cried. At work. When you're older, you'll understand how much I hate to cry at all. I'm thankful it was past closing and only my closest friends were there to see it.
I wonder if I'll have you next year or if I'll have to go through this again while I wait. You're worth the wait. You're worth anything I can give. You are priceless.
I stare at our mantle, where five stockings hang, and I want to hang one for you too but I don't think I can face a daily reminder of missing you. Your room is full of stuff that needs to be sorted and probably most of it given away but I don't do it. I keep your door shut. One bedroom, in the middle of our hall, with the door locked tight. Because if I clean it out and make it look like my little girl's room, missing you will be too real to bear.
I've missed you for so long, I'm afraid to hope. People who love me and mean well keep telling me that it will happen and you will come home and I know that, of course. I trust that God has led us to you and that He has this in His hands. But knowing that doesn't stop the grief over my daughter who isn't home with me this Christmas.
I pray for you, as do the boys, every night. I pray that you are safe and loved and that you don't suffer before we can take you home. I'm afraid to pray this and afraid to hope for it but I ask that next year, you will be here, your gorgeous almond-shaped eyes wide with wonder at the twinkling lights, your little hands full of sugar cookies, your baby-laugh filling our home as your brothers crowd around you, excited to share the wonder of Christmas with their baby girl.
Merry Christmas, Johanna Faith Redwine, wherever you are. I love you.