Yesterday was Independence Day. As anyone who has been following this adventure knows our time with Daniela has been indescribable, wonderful and tough all at the same time. We began the day with uncertainty. Uncertain as to how this day would start out, uncertain as to which direction it would go and uncertain as to what lay before us.
After some gentle prodding Daniela emerged from her room and ate some breakfast. We filled her in on the plans for the day and she showered and dressed. We were going to our friends’ house – Wayne and Linda Adams – for a BBQ and swimming. She came down the stairs wearing a simple cotton maxi dress that I had bought for her while she and Eileen were getting a mani/pedi on Monday. She had told us that she liked those and wanted one. I couldn’t believe it! Daniela looked … radiant! A tiny smile even broke out as we vigorously showed our approval by applauding!!!
We spent the day swimming. Daniela is in her element in the water. She was laughing, interacting and being mischievous all day long. She was tipping us off our floating rafts in the pool, pushing us into the pool and occasionally bombing us with cannonballs!!! Then when it came time for retribution from me or Eileen she would squeal and run away saying “Noooooo”. When she wasn’t looking I would swim underwater and grab her ankles making her squeal with laughter. Daniela and I even did a few choreographed cannonball jumps together. Loads of fun.
Peter refused to get in the pool but that did not deter Daniela. She grabbed a water pistol and began soaking him with it. We all joined in the fun. When that wasn’t enough Daniela poured water on him and splashed him non-stop. Peter does NOT like getting splashed but he was LOVING it from Daniela.
Peter and Daniela have formed some connection in the week she has been here. He makes her giggle with his gusto for food and Daniela has begun to mimic some of his rudimentary language skills. When Pete claps, Daniela responds with clapping. When Pete makes his guttural “whale” noises, Daniela answers in kind. That makes Pete smile and Daniela rolls her eyes at him and smiles back.
At the end of the night, we were sunburned and exhausted.
This young woman has been through so much pain and rejection in her life, things we cannot and will not share here. She cannot understand how we (strangers) can tell her we love her when her own family does not love her. But I think she is beginning to understand that love now. She obviously struggles with letting her guard down to let in some love and let out some love; she wants to so much but then she feels vulnerable and scared so she throws up the wall and pushes us away. This is followed by letting her guard down a little more when she sees that we still love her and are NEVER giving up on her even when she is at her worst.