I think I’m too OCD to write out of chronological order…
First of all, I have GOT TO LEARN SOME CHINESE! Secondly, I will NEVER bring two 50 pound bags to a train station ever again. The driver from New Hope took me to the train station (a 20 mile drive that took about 2 hours to accomplish. Chinese traffic is something that I will talk about on a less eventful day) and then he helped me get into the train station. People were laughing at the amount of luggage that I had, and some even took pictures. Thank God that I was given a China cell phone and thank God that Mikey (a bilingual American friend) answers his phone every time I call. I was so confused when I walked in and I had to keep calling Mikey and then handing the phone to a random Chinese person so that the 2 of them could figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Luckily, Mikey talked me through the process of getting into the preboarding area which allowed me to board the train before everyone else for 50 cents. Well worth it. I got on, found my bed and then realized that my suitcases were not going to fit in the designated storage area. So, I just had to leave them in the aisle. The Chinese men that I was sharing a room with came in and looked at my bags and then looked at me like I was crazy. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to say I’m sorry in Chinese. I settled into my bed just in time to see the man across from me peel back his socks to reveal the nastiest feet I have ever seen in my life. Gangly, knarly toenails and crusted feet that made the entire cabin smell of sour milk. And then he started smoking. Awesome. I was exhausted from this experience so I put my headphones in and fell asleep before the train left the station. 4 am. I wake up because my lovely roomie snores louder than anyone I Have ever heard. I mean, my headphones were turned all the way up and I could still hear it. Upon waking up, I realized that I had to pee so badly. I laid there for about 45 minutes trying to convince myself that I didn’t, but ultimately I had to succumb to the squatty potty. I won’t give you any details about the state of the facilities on the train. I finally arrived in Louyang at about 7:30 and got some friendly Chinese men to carry my bags up 3 flights of stairs and made my way to meet the driver.
Pulling up to Maria’s house always brings tears to my eyes. Today I felt like I was coming home. This is the only place in the world, other than my parents house, that makes me feel completely safe, peaceful, and loved unconditionally. When I got off the elevator to the 3rd floor, Theo’s nanny met me in the hall with him. I love it that they knew I was coming. They were all yelling ‘mama’ as I came down the hall. There was a moment where he looked at me like ‘I can’t believe you’re here’ and then He started clapping and laughing and reaching out to me. I would go through a thousand train stations for the feeling that I have when he is in my arms. He calls me ‘mama’. Every time I walk in the room. He cries when I leave. He laughs when I’m there. He belongs in my life. I need him more than he needs me.
I cant believe how much he has grown since I was here in March. The deformities in his legs aren’t as noticable now that he is so chunky. I did realize today that he cannot feel anything below his waist. I can tickle his feet and pinch his legs and there is no reaction whatsoever. This is the first time that has been clear to me. This is also the first time that I have seen him get around. He has never been strong enough to pull his weight before but now he can. He uses his arms to sort of army-crawl across the floor with his limp legs dragging behind. Gosh, I cried when I saw this. Because I know what that means for him here in China. There is no place for that here. In America, we have wheelchairs and handicapped access and things that make life livable for people in need of that. It broke my heart to see that. Then I started to think about what Theo’s life was like this time last year and I began to look at this differently. If he wasn’t here, at Maria’s House, he may not even be alive. This time last year, I would have been so thrilled to see him display the kind of strength that he did today. So I realized that Theo has small victories every day. And I am thankful for those. I am so thankful to all the people that make this possible for him, his nannies, the nurses, the doctors, everyone at showhope. I just have to keep it in perspective, or I won’t make it here for 6 weeks. Its really just too much to take in.
I just went downstairs and kissed him goodnight and I’m getting ready to head to bed myself. Tomorrow is a huge day at Maria’s House. I’m not allowed to blog about it, but please keep the medical team here in your prayers.
I love going to bed knowing that I’m surrounded by angels!