I need to let everyone know thank you so much for your comments, emails, phone calls and prayers. I am feeling the love and its keeping me from slipping into a dark depression. I had told Kim that with the news of Isaac if something were to happen to one of the girls that would just be too much to bear, and I might slip into a place where I don't want to go mentally and spiritually. Your kind words and prayers have kept me from going to that place.
We have had to let many children go, my husband and I. Most of them being foster children who went home to their biological families. It wasn't always a happy or easy reunion and I have been accused on more than one occasion from biological parents and social workers of "loving" a little too much. If my greatest sin has been loving the children in my care too much, then I accept that. I just don't want to become one of those people that becomes mechanical about life, putting up walls, because the letting go is too hard to do.
When Kim and I were in Haiti and taking the girls back to their parents I felt peace. I didn't think that it would be so easy and I remember sitting on the plane waiting until the last minute to be the ones to leave the plane. Because I knew once we left the plane the choice was over, we were stuck there giving the girls back. Each step of the way through the airport in PAP seemed surreal and I feel so ill to my stomach. When we had to hand over the passports we stared at one another thinking silently... OK this is it... we are here, we have to do this. Once I saw Lori I felt a little more at peace... but I still had this great anxiety about meeting the Moms and wondering if the babies would cry when they held them. I didn't want to think of Christella more bonded to me than her mother. But the fact was that she was more bonded to me. I was the one who had spent the past months with her and at that point, to her, her mother was a memory. I didn't want to see that, think it, or feel it at all. It was going to be too difficult to feel as if I was walking away and breaking this babies heart who thought I was her world.
Once I saw Christella's Mom I saw her child in her eyes. She grabbed me and hugged me and thanked me, we both teared up and even though I couldn't understand the words she was saying to me... the peace came over me. She loved her child and I could SEE that. I could feel her love and felt her loving touch through and through. I coped with Christella crying and whimpering for me to hold her, staring at me in her Momma's arms, looking with her eyes like "Why are you holding me?" I didn't cry, or feel badly, I just knew that she was where she belonged, with her mother.
Kim and I were really strong, we did so much better than I thought we would. I thought we would be blubbering fools the entire time through lunch. It felt like closure for both of us I think. It wasn't until we were in the truck, Kim and I with the babies in the back seat, Lori and the driver in the front, on our way to the domestic airport leaving for Cap Haitian, that we broke down and cried. It wasn't because we were leaving the babies, we were sad about that, but we let the tears run when Lori started crying. Lori said that there are some days that are so hopeless and there is so much death and despair. And what we did was to give her some hope. It is rare in her work that she had a day of happiness, reuniting the girls with their families was joy for her. It made us all happy to see them all so happy together. A true cause for celebration.
So in Christella's passing I have been thinking a lot about Lori and her hope. I pray for Lori and Licia and pray that they remember the joy and feeling of seeing Ella's pictures of her back without the mass, the RHFH staff cheering the babies were alive and well... the blessing of her reuniting with her family, and the joy that she brought to so many people. I need to remain in my half glass full mind set and forge ahead. I had someone tell me that I will never get over Christella's death, I won't "accept" it, or just move on from it... it will now become part of who we are all.
This post is going to be long, so please bear with me.
There was another child whom I was close to that passed away several years ago. M. was a little girl adopted from Columbia with a cleft palate as a baby. She had several surgeries and became this graceful, compassionate child like no other. I was her babysitter from the time she was a baby just home from Columbia until she became a pre-teen. We had moved away and when she was a teenager, her Mom brought her to visit. She knew that we were foster parents and had lots of foster babies and she loved babies and social work, and was interested in spending sometime at our house helping out. When she came to visit was over a summer that she had a large external fixator on her head that was moving her jaw out from its inward position. She was so resilient, she just dealt with it. We even went to the local town carnival where she had lots of stares, and she just forged ahead. It was only a couple months later when school was back in session and M. was a cross country runner. She was running one day and collapsed. M. had a heart problem that was never diagnosed in all her years of medical treatment, no one ever noticed. M. died that day.
The reason that I bring up M. is because Christella reminds me so much of her. When M. was a baby she would pat the back of the person holding her. Even before you patted her back, she was there patting yours, comforting you with her love. Christella would do the same thing, so tiny and fragile, yet willing to give you all the love she had. I like to think that M. is with Christella in heaven now, caring for her and loving her. Both girls without pain, living eternity in perfection, sharing their love with one another...
I have been so blessed to have so much love in my life.
Several people have emailed and asked what they can do to help.
Pray of course. Pray for Haiti. Pray for everyone involved and Christella's family. They were able to get her body yesterday. Typically bodies are taken to the morgue and then left there... it costs money I believe to get the body, money for a casket, money for a place to bury the person... so in Haiti most people don't have the option of having that type of closure. It gave me a lot of peace to know that they were able to buy a casket for Christella and a small plot to bury her in. Lori reports that her parents are doing ok and she is there for them if they need her and has spent a lot of time talking to her Mom.
Another thing you can do is consider donating some money to help cover Christella's expenses to Real Hope for Haiti. (See the link to Lori's blog on the right side of the page.) On Lori's blog is a link to donate money. I hate asking for money, and I really know that Lori hates asking for money. (And will probably kill me for bringing this up!) But I know that she has used her payroll money to help cover Christella's expenses. (The doctors, hospital, morgue, blood, supplies for surgery, casket, plot of land etc.) Christella's family spent the money that they had as well. I am going to paypal some money to Lori through her link on her blog so that this is one less thing that she has to worry about. Christmas is a slow time for donations for them, and I hate to think of her family, or any of the employees families going without this time of year because they spent the money that they had. (So Lori, please don't be upset with me, people have asked how they can help.)
One more way to help: If you have been touched by Christella's life and want to write something up about her. (Whether you had time with her in person or not.) I wrote a letter to her parents and would love to put together some more momento's and thoughts so they have that to keep about the impact of Christella's life... or any pictures you might have (Ange? Ericka? Kim? Dr. A? Cindy?)... I know that they would be treasured by her family forever.
Thank you all again.