Below is the story of Isabella… I wrote it during my senior seminar…
“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love”-Hillary Stanton Zunin
She arrived in an ambulance, sirens off until it pulled up to the heavy iron gate. The ancient van transformed into an ambulance crawled up the hill and the children dusty and sticky with sweat in the midday sun ran along beside it. A woman stepped out of the back clutching a tiny bundle of blankets. She entered the building that served as the kitchen, cafeteria, and gathering space. Tita Carol looked at the tiny bundle and cooed, then pointed and told the woman in Spanish to hand the bundle to me. I took the bundle from the woman and saw the smallest little nose peeking out from the blankets. I carefully pulled the blanket away from the baby’s face. I had never held a baby so tiny before. I was told it was a girl and when I asked her name Carol said solemnly, “no name”.
The sweet infant I held in my arms surrounded by children and others who had traveled with me to the Orphanage in Guatemala, was motherless, abandoned, alone, and without a name. Time seemed to stand still. I carefully unwrapped her and took a closer look at her tiny features. She opened her eyes as she was removed from her toasty cocoon. Tita Carol told me to give her a name. I didn’t stand a chance.
Isabella Esperanza Maria became known that day. She was given the name Isabella because she smiled when I said it, Esperanza because it was a group of Hope College students that surrounded her that day and Maria because the baby room staff did not get the memo that she had a name. Isabella Esperanza Maria, it means God is my oath and hope in this sea of bitterness.
I was told by somebody very wise that I was a mother mourning, and that was the best description I have heard to date about how I feel being so far away from the baby girl who spent her first week out of the hospital laying skin to skin on my chest. She needed a mother, and I needed her. I am no stranger to loss.
I was friends with a girl whose aunt had foster kids. My family would provide respite care for them occasionally and when I was old enough I would baby sit. I fell in love over and over again. Then lost them over and over again. Their names and faces haunt me still. Ciara. Cordelia. Devontae. Kiara. Alleya. Children have always come and gone in my life. It comes with the job as a baby sitter and a daycare worker. Kids grow, families move, I went away to college.
I know how to love and let go, but for some reason, I cannot let go of Isabella. As soon as I returned to the states I began planning on how I could save and get back to her, praying for Guatemala to allow international adoptions again, for all the kids that sat in waiting at the orphanage, each day making them older and less likely to get a forever family. My arms ached to hold her.
However, it was not meant to be, Isabella’s mama came back into her life six months after abandoning her at the hospital. The judges gave her back to her. I will probably never see Isabella this side of heaven again. My daughter is gone, I am a mother in mourning. Was it worth it? I may never know for sure, because it happened, I can’t undo my love for her, I just patch the weeping hole in my heart and try to move on. Knowing that loving her has changed my entire life.