Thursday, October 02, 2008

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine...

This evening I was having dinner with my family at a smallish chain restaurant that all four of us like.

Lana surprised me by reaching over to my plate and taking one of my shrimp. (And no, we were not at Red Lobster. Ever since the great Red Lobster Debacle of 1993, Husband has not set foot in a Red Lobster.)

Where was I?

Oh, Lana reached over and took a shrimp from my plate, put it in her mouth (uh...tail and all) and ate it.

"I like this," she announced.

Husband and I stared at her, a bit dumbfounded.

Lana loved shrimp when we were with her in Vietnam. And, for a short time afterward. LOVED them.

Then, inexplicably and without warning, she refused to eat them. For a long time she offered no explanation for this. And then, one day, months ago, she said, "I no eat that no more. I ate that when I spoke Vietnam. I no speak Vietnam, I no eat those things."

And while this made me sad, I didn't know what to do. It's not like shrimp is something I feed to my other child, well, ever. So, I stopped putting shrimp on her plate and replaced it with other things - chicken and pork and salmon. She didn't complain.

But today, she put that shrimp in her mouth and ate it happily. And I'm not sure what to make of it.

I watched her, sitting across the table from me, in the booth, leaning into Husband's arm. She said something very funny (although I cannot recall what it was exactly), we all laughed and she cuddled into him.

For a moment, I was awestruck, looking at this beautiful, beautiful child - this child who once loved shrimp, and then didn't anymore, because it reminded her of a place or a time before, that was too painful or confusing to think about.

To think that we had traveled to the other side of the planet, and arrived at an orphanage on a rainy afternoon, to meet a child we knew almost nothing about...and 20 months later, to find that she fits into our lives, into the crook of my husband's arm, into the spaces of my life that I didn't know were empty...

Truly, what are the odds?

What are the odds that people who are truly meant to be together will find their way to each other? It's almost a little like arranged marriage, isn't it? To be handed a packet of information and a picture and a list of instructions. You will get on a plane. You will meet this stranger. You will love them and live with them forever.

Is the human capacity for love so boundless that we can find love under such a pretense?

I think it might be. And maybe there is something greater going on. Maybe we are drawn to those we are meant to have in our lives by something bigger than ourselves.

For a long time, when I looked at Lana, I knew, somehow, that I loved her, that I was choosing to love her.

Love can be a choice that you make, and I was choosing to love this child.

But, I am not able to remember, at what point, I stopped choosing to love her, and found that I had no more choice in the matter. I love this little girl. It's no longer a choice I am making but simply the be all, end all - I love this little girl. Against all odds, against language and culture and blood ties that do not bind - I love this child.

I could not love her more than if it were my blood pumping in the heart in her chest.

And I am weirdly relieved, that, for whatever reason, she is ready to eat those things again, that remind her of Vietnam, and not feel bad about it.


*Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), Casablanca, 1942


Blogger Jena said...

I think this may be one of the single most beautiful posts ever written. Thank you.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 10:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I completely agree with Jena. And I completely agree that the human capacity to love is that boundless.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

As someone who hopes to adopt someday, this post really touched my heart and gives me hope. Thanks!

Thursday, October 02, 2008 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Nicki said...

I agree with jena - this is one of the single most beautiful posts I've ever read. I"m sitting here with tears streaming. Thank you for so poetically stating how boundless love is and how miraculous the life that draws us together can be.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Terynn said...

all because two people fell in love...

and they lived happily ever after...

(happy sigh)

Friday, October 03, 2008 12:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Amazing isn't it, how something as simple as eating a shrimp can have so much meaning? :) It's been so great - and so encouraging for me personally - to see your love and bond with Lana grow. I know exactly what you mean about choosing to love versus having it just bursting out of your heart. And what a lesson to us all - not just adoptive parents - about making the choice to love even when the other person may not seem so very lovable.

Friday, October 03, 2008 9:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chel said...

What a beautiful, beautiful entry... I'm crying over here.

Friday, October 03, 2008 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

What an amazing and beautiful post…I needed a good sweet cry :) Thank you.

Friday, October 03, 2008 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I usually lurk but had to respond to this post. It is poetry. It made me smile and cry at the same time. My Vietnamese princess has been with me for 3 months and I adore her. I'm in love with her, but we're still "learnign each other" and I can't wait until I get to the point you describe.


Friday, October 03, 2008 2:36:00 PM  
Blogger S. said...

Just beautifully said and felt and I am just, overwhelmed with Lana and her bravery. And I love what Christina said.

Friday, October 03, 2008 5:02:00 PM  
Blogger thecurryseven said...


Friday, October 03, 2008 5:22:00 PM  
Blogger maxhelcal said...

I wish I could write like you! Beautiful post. As we've written each other several times, you know how I feel about this. I am so happy for you Gretchen, and deeply touched by the way you express it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous laura said...

Beautiful. And so very true.

Sunday, October 05, 2008 1:40:00 PM  
Blogger Monique said...

This post reminded me of a story my Mother told me repeatedly. My parents adopted me when I was little over two yrs old. My Mom was stationed in Thailand while my Dad and I were living in Vietnam. One day over the phone I told her "I no speak no more Vietnamese". My parents were mystified and stumped at the statement from a toddler. Up to this day they are convinced the Vietnamese maid who watched me during the day must have told me to speak English to my new family. Or I was afraid that if I didn't speak English that they wouldn't love me anymore. I don't remember doing it but I can now understand the reasoning behind it now that I have a daughter adopted from Vietnam as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2008 2:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

好秘书 中国呼吸网 肿瘤网 中国皮肤网 癌症康复网 中国公文网 工作总结 个人工作总结 半年工作总结 年终工作总结 单位工作总结 教师工作总结 教学工作总结 学校工作总结 德育工作总结 财务工作总结 医务工作总结 安全工作总结 乡镇工作总结 党员工作总结 团委工作总结 公司工作总结 实习工作总结 班主任工作总结 党支部工作总结 办公室工作总结 学生会工作总结 工作报告 政府报告 述职报告 述职述廉 考察报告 自查报告 情况报告 调研报告 调查报告 申请报告 辞职报告 实习报告 验收报告 评估报告 工作汇报 思想汇报 汇报材料 情况通报 情况汇报 心得体会 学习体会 工作体会 培训体会 读后感 领导讲话 庆典致辞 节日致辞 开业开幕 演讲稿 竞聘演讲 就职演讲 比赛演讲 征文演讲 节日演讲 演讲技巧 工作意见 活动策划 工作方案 整改方案 实施方案 企划文案 营销方案 培训方案 应急预案 规章制度 法律法规 事迹材料 先进事迹 个人事迹 申报材料 学习材料 考察材料 经验材料 交流材料 自我鉴定 工作计划 工作规划 年度工作计划 学校工作计划 个人工作计划 团委工作计划 工会工作计划 单位工作计划 党支部工作计划 民主生活会 入党志愿书 入党申请书 入团申请书 转正申请书 党性分析材料 先教活动 整改措施 剖析材料 公告通知 模板范例 贺电贺词 常用书信 合同范本 社交礼仪 法律文书 论文

Friday, October 17, 2008 10:43:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counter
Get a Free Hit Counter