Friday, December 18, 2009

Mei Mei

I first met her after she had snuck into Kaisha's heart through pictures. It had happened to me before. Twice. Falling in love with little girls half way around the world just by looking long and hard at their pictures. Unless its happened to you, you just wouldn't know how completely obsessed you can get.
Kaisha's sponsorship of Tiffany, sending money to the orphanage every month with Tiffy's care in mind, that part was just the catalyst to the adoring her in a dozen other ways. Kaisha would search the orphanage website for more pictures. She would print them and post them on her blog and in her room. She read anything she could find on her little-girl-in-China. Shopping trips to buy the most adorable outfits to send to China; nothing but cuteness for her baby. Requested info on Tiffy's heart condition, begged us to adopt her, and began wishing to go sit on the grass half way around the world to love on her.
How did she do that? How did Kaisha convince my mom and I to go all the way to China to spend a week watching her and Mei Mei play with her camera together? I'm glad she did. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Due to her heart condition, Mei Mei had some things she couldn't do very well. Such as breath. Her little fingers and lips were blueish from lack of oxygen. Each breath noticeable. Each breath a gift from the God who loves her. Mei Mei learned to walk last year when she was four. It was beautiful. We cheered from the other side of the planet.

One thing Mei Mei did well, maybe even best, was stealing. You could not be in a room with her for but a few minutes and she would take your heart. Even if you had it all sealed up and safely protected. Even then. She was cuteness on display. Pretty. Her rare smile melted you. Since breathing was so hard for her, being naughty, crying, or fussing, none of those were really options. She was simply sweet. Her eyes were deep and thoughtful. Full of ideas and words.
The part I loved the best was hearing her say Kai-sha. They spent a lot of time playing together with Kaisha's camera. Kaisha taught her how to take pictures and gave her freedom to take hundreds. Take a picture, look at the screen. Take another picture, look at that one. Mei Mei would say the Chinese names of her friends in the pictures. Then Kaisha would turn the camera around and take pictures of the two of them together. They would laugh. I would look over their shoulders and point her little finger to Kaisha in the picture and say her name. Mei Mei would repeat it. Kai-sha. Her little voice so quiet.
The burning question might be: if you adored her so much, why didn't you adopt her? A simple question with a complex answer. But at the end of the long explanation you might say that she wasn't adoptable. In a sense, of course she was adoptable. All things are possible. It sounds cold and harsh to say she couldn't be adopted. But not in the sense that I intend. First of all, she was loved and cared for so well where she was. Each child assigned to a fiercely devoted nanny that they call mama. Life arranged in a planned routine, living in a beautiful home, growing up with the same children day after day. She received good medical care from the full time missionary doctor who consulted with both Chinese and American doctors. She was adored by the staff. She had a good life. But a family would have been better. True. We were told by a doctor that it was amazing, given her heart conditions, that she was still alive. Each day a gift. Each day potentially her last. Since each task in Tiffy's day was difficult for her body, something like a plane trip would be unlikely to be successful for her. In her fragile state imagine the trauma of being taken from her nanny, from her home and friends. Yes, when she was one or two or even three years old it would have been worth the hurt to give her a home. But by the time she was four, her little body was so fragile. I believe that in Tiffany's case, the most loving thing was to leave her where she was. And believe me, that broke hearts.
Tiffy died yesterday. We cried. It hurts. But now she is whole, no longer broken. All the things she imagined doing, she can do them now! Run. Jump. Dance! And she does them not on this sorry, broken, imperfect earth. She stands before the throne of heaven, before her Maker. She is held by the God who loved her every second of her five year old life. The God who wrote her beautiful story and mixed it all up with Kaisha's. The God who has made Kaisha a different person because of Mei Mei. I can't see it or measure it or parse it and explain exactly how, but I know He has. That's how God is. That's what He does. He writes your story in a way that you never expected. In a way that you would never choose. He mixes up the happiest parts of life with the hardest, most painful parts. You wonder why. But when you know Him, you trust Him with it. Not a trust that is stoic and says and does all the right things. But an earthly, real-about-how-much-it-hurts sort of trust.
There's a day coming when all our questions will be answered. And with certainty. I think we will breath a sigh of relief and then bow down and worship Him. For now, we hold tight and trust Him, cry because we miss her and want her, and look forward to the day that we will see her again. We love you, Tiffy.


Annie said...

What an incredibly touching, moving tribute to a very special little girl. Some of my favorite memories from China were seeing Kaisha and her taking pictures together and hearing Mei-Mei's wheezing little laugh when they made funny faces and took self-portraits. I had forgotten about her learning to say Kaisha's name as heart is crying now as I remember just how precious that was. I am so incredibly thankful that, through Kaisha, I got to know and love precious Tiffany as well. She has changed my life and I can't wait to see her dancing and laughing and playing as a healthy, new creation someday. I miss that little one!!
Lots of hugs to you and Kaisha.

Annie said...

P.s. on a lighter note, I just had to say that I, of course, know exactly how easy it is to become obsessed with a pair of dark almond-shaped eyes and a couple little pigtails on the other side of the world. And searching for every last picture of them, buying them the cutest items off Target clothing racks, and scheming for months to go visit them only to come home and feel like making an immediate plane reservation to return. I am so thankful to experience all of this with you and Kaisha and am excited to pick out two new little girls to sponsor and become obsessed with soon, even though it's been hard and bittersweet to let these two go on to their new homes, both earthly and heavenly. (I guess I better stop now...this is becoming a blog post itself). :)

Rambling Tart said...

Beautiful, Kristine! Mum just told me about your blog and I am loving it :-)

Sharon said...

Hi there! What a sweet post about MeiMei, and although I have never met her, I have seen many pictures and have heard so much about her. I will be praying for everyone that loved her so much in her short life. And I know exactly what you mean about falling in love with someone through a picture, and it doesn't matter how far away they live, the love is the same. I sponsor a little boy, Tristan, at PHF. He actually lived in the same house as MeiMei and NuiNui. I will miss seeing new pictures of MeiMei with all her Samaritan House friends. But how great is it that she is home now and will never have to suffer again? Amazing.

Hugs, Sharon

Brenda said...

wow Kristine. Hands down, this is your best blog post ever. You need to print it up, with pictures embedded, and send it to the orphenage. They will be blessed to hear your words of love for this sweet girl.

Thank you for tugging at my heart with this story. At this time of year with all the business of preparing "stuff" for Christmas, Mei Mei's life and death is a precious reminder of the big picture and why we celebrate the birth of Christ. What a wonderful Christmas for Mei Mei, to worship Christ fully and without pain or effort.

okay. gotta go get Kleenex and dab my tears. xoxo

Peter Rust said...

Thank you for writing this, Kristine.

Leslie said...

I am so sorry and yet happy for Tiffany. We are crying with you.

Leanne said...

Oh, this was so beautifully written, and oozed with such pure love!

Thanks for the sweetness,