His malnourished and tiny frame clings to me as if being set down is his greatest fear. His cries are panicky, a learned behavior. He has been taught that crying doesn’t make them come his year of life has taught him to be self sufficient.
I rock him a little longer, humming a little tune while waiting for his clutch to relax. He gently loosens his grip placing his forehead on my cheek, as if he was soaking me in. He sighs, I whisper, “I’ve got you.” He is quiet, inexpressive, his eyes heavy and dark. Tears stream down my face dripping onto ginger curls, his story unknown but his body remembers.
The call came Friday, the call I was waiting for he was ours, the one we have been praying for. He had been at Shelter since Monday’s removal, two failed family placements then they called me. He turned one on Thursday, his birthday spent in the shelter. They brought him out of the room, his body bruised by the neglect and abuse. The worker handed him to me, instantly burying his face in my neck. I pressed my lips to his curls, “I’ve got you.”
We drove in silence, I needed to revise my shopping list, he was much smaller than I thought. The neglect and malnourishment showed in his tiny frame and sunken eyes. We got to the store and I put him in our baby carrier his forehead rested on my chest. His weary little body, was clearly not used to physical contact, he seemed to be soaking it in. I talked to him about everything, then in a brief moment I said something he looked up at me and he heard me. “I’ve got you,” I whispered into his hair with a kiss.
We spent the afternoon collecting what we needed and picking up the crew from school. I bragged about how great his big sisters and brother are, how he came to the right house. Somewhere along the line he learned that reaching out didn’t do anything. We got home and he just quietly sat there, eyes wide and empty. I walked by him, kissing him, “I’ve got you.”
The first night he woke up, confused and unsure of where he was. He fussed quietly, I gave him a moment, then scooped down to pick him up, he jumped hard. I realized he had learned that no one comes when he cries. I pulled him in close, rocking and kissing him, “you’re okay, I’ve got you.”
The world is new, he is discovering everything. Food is fascinating, outside is magical, and people are unique. He watches everything, those dark eyes soaking it all in. Hanging on he absorbs the world around in my arms, afraid to be put down. “I’ve got you.”
The beauty of a child, is they are resilient. He made a noise, I repeated it, he made it again, so did I. A few moments later he did it again, so did I. Then a new noise, a glance to me and the volley begins, back and forth. He found his voice, he has been heard. I bent down today and held my hands out, he looked up at me and reached. He raised his hands, for he has been held. The eyes say it all, they are the windows to the soul. Dark, empty and lifeless he came, his soul burdened with the things he has seen. This morning, hope there was a sparkle in them, a clearness. He looked up at me and we locked eyes, he has been seen. Kissing him on the nose, “I’ve got you.”
Little One left a big void. Baby Z has come and with him the hope of healing and the joy of celebration. Our hearts are fuller, Baby Z has been been a beacon of healing for us all. God is whispering, “I’ve got you.”