(looking out over the city where my daughter lived in China)
One of the things I love about our house is the breakfast bar in the kitchen. There is a long counter with tall chairs. Four people can sit there comfortably. We call it Judkins Cafe. There is something about sitting at that counter that makes people relax. I have no idea how that dynamic works but when someone sits there they start sharing their hearts. It is made of a beautiful wood with a fun story. The orginal owner of the house told us the wood was supposed to be made into guitars. He bought it and gave it a new purpose. It really is gorgeous and I struggled when we first moved in to let the children sit there to eat fearing they would destroy the wood.
During the school year, the kids eat in shifts due to their different schedules. It makes breakfast at our house last for about two hours. Some days I have the time to just sit at the table with each group, but other days just do not allow it. A few weeks ago, I needed to prep dinner while some of the children were eating their breakfast. That day I particularly feeling the need to also connect more with them and then the idea hit me.
Let them eat their breakfast at the counter.
I hesitated thinking of my youngest three eating there and the mess they would make and the possibility they would damage the counter.... but i decided to try it anyway. Their faces beamed with delight. As they began to eat and I began to prep facing them, their hearts began to open. I cannot remember what made the story begin but my girls started sharing about their lives before they came home. My oldest daughter officially became a part of our team just a few days after turning five years old. We are now almost five years home and on this special morning she remembered things she had never shared with us before. Due to a myriad of reason, her short and long term memory have gaps. Over the years we have moments where clarity comes, something triggers a memory and we get a glimpse into her life in China. Some are funny, some are sweet and some are painful... but all are a gift to my heart. I believe I will grieve forever not being there with her from the moment she took her first breath. But these brief unveilings help me to be a part of her past and understand her more intimately. It is an honor that she shares her memories with me. And it is a bittersweet gift that somehow her brain captured so many of them at the young age of four.
I imagine years from now that counter will have many stains and marks and gouges.... and i will lovingly cherish every single one.