Grace and joy ebb and flow when it comes to my beloved girl, Luz María. Right now, she takes my breath away often. Her residential program has recently hired a pair of behavior specialists who are doing magnificent work with her. With any number of cautions, with enormous reserve, they and we have allowed ourselves to begin to consider the possibility that one day, María will function well enough to move to a less restrictive environment. That’s all “institutional-eze” for the hope Maria will be able to live in a group home setting. If that is the case, she will be able to move much closer to us—maybe even as close as Montgomery. My mind immediately goes, “whoa, Rosa, manage expectations.” I take nothing for granted and make absolutely no assumptions, given the path we have made over these 17 years. But what an astounding gift hope can be.
A couple of weeks ago, Luz María called to report she’d had a meeting with her behavior team and she was doing great. She explained her behavior statistics were on the up and up. Then she said, “I’m going to get to move to Alabama soon and that’s good because you and my dad are getting old and I can help you shower, and make you food, and take care of you.”
There it was: the same kind of generosity that has been at the core of my girl’s being from the beginning. We are a couple of weeks away from celebrating her ‘Gotcha Day’—March 4, which was a sunny Sunday in Mexico City in 2001. Each year, I allow myself to go back to the day after she was entrusted to our care, to the morning we went to the Museo del Papalote, a lovely children’s park and how María pulled her daddy to an infinity fountain at the entrance as soon as we arrived. How, there, she put his hands in the water and gently washed them for him. How she did the same for me. One who had been so neglected, so rejected, so utterly valueless, was so willing to be the exact opposite, treat those around her with reverence. The absolute miracle of our daughter.
A few days after she and we had the conversation about coming to Alabama, she sent us a letter with her own gorgeous vocabulary:
Bark = BARC (where she lives)
Persenoess= percentages and refers to the percentage of time she engaged in appropriate behavior
It pierces my heart to read the last line because all these years later, I still miss her as much as on the day she was removed from our home by the police for her own safety and ours, and after a brief stay in the psych unit, moved into BARC. Maybe, just maybe, all her tears and ours, her laughter and ours, her doggedness and our refusal to give up are enough to nurture that tiniest speck of a seed of hope so that one day, we won’t have to miss each other quite so much.