Friday, December 23, 2011

The Wonders of His Love

I arrived home to Chicago at 9:45 Wednesday morning, full of apprehension.

The reason I asked to come home early is because of my cousins from London. There are two of them, Tatiana and Andrei, age 7 and 5 respectively. With their little British accents and sunny dispositions, they're two of my favorite people in the entire world. I very rarely get a chance to see them, owing to the distance. When I found out their mother was bringing them for a brief pre-Christmas stop in Chicago, I decided I couldn't miss their visit.

Angela, Andrei and Tatiana at our favorite Turkish restaurant Wednesday
When I studied abroad in London, those two became my fast friends. I remember many nights brushing Tatiana's hair and reading her stories before she fell asleep. She is so bright and eager, a good conversationalist, and we had a lot of fun together.

Andrei was a little younger but he too completely stole my heart. He is probably the most affectionate child I've ever met, and so good-natured that it's impossible not to get along with him. In London, I fell in love with him on sight. He was only three years old but we had so much fun spinning each other around in his dad's office chair for hours and playing similarly goofy games.

Occasionally when I slept over at my aunt and uncle's flat, Andrei had bad dreams and would wake up in the middle of the night crying. My guest bedroom was closer to his room so I could hear him before his parents did. Wanting to help my aunt and uncle out, I developed a habit of going to his room and soothing him back to sleep before his crying could wake them up.

In a way, those nights were a little sad for me. You see, I really loved that little boy, but I knew that soon I would have to leave him to go home to the United States. Tatiana was old enough to have memories of our time together, but Andrei was only three years old, barely more than a baby. So as I cradled him and sang him to sleep, my heart was heavy.

Is he even going to remember me after I'm gone? I thought. Is it worth spending all this time and love on someone who won't remember a moment of it? I decided that yes, it was. All I could do was hope and pray that somehow, in some incomprehensible way, Andrei wouldn't entirely forget how much his cousin loved him.

So when I got off the plane Wednesday morning, I was more than a little nervous. It would be my first time seeing the little British cousins since I had been at their flat in London, almost two years ago. I was excited and very nervous with the happy anxiety of seeing a loved one after a long separation.

First I spent time with Tatiana, as my mom took the girls of the family to the American Girl Place for lunch. To my joy, Tatiana and I hit it off right away. We had a happy, laughter-filled lunch with my sisters and mom.

Then we went to the Children's Museum to meet up with my dad and aunts, who had taken charge of all the little boy cousins for the day. When we got to the museum, I was busy for several minutes going around to kiss all the aunts, cousins, and family members who I hadn't seen in some time. I kissed my little brother Joseph and then managed to spot Andrei climbing a tractor.

I called out to him and he came over, a little hesitant. But after a few introductory minutes, he became my own little Andrei again, climbing all over me and giving big kisses. He wanted to ride on my back and sit on my lap. He wanted me to carry him forever and never put him down.

It was as though we had never been apart. As I told my mom, "I don't know if he actually remembers me, but he's definitely doing a good impersonation of it."

Me and my Andrei, right before he left this morning
I didn't think I would get to come home early - and yet here I was on Wednesday morning.

I was afraid Andrei would forget me - and now we are faster friends than ever.

I had fascinating conversations with my brilliant, beautiful aunts. I hope to be as lovely as they are when I grow up.

I competed in an intense round of decorating "gingerbread" graham-cracker houses, took dozens of pictures with my cousins and laughed every day until my stomach hurt.

I've never been so happy in my life as I was these past three days. There was always a little one to hold or snuggle or dance with. I had my darling cousins and siblings and family all around me, and we had endless amounts of fun. The trip has done much to relieve the sadness I've felt since Matt's death.

This afternoon I went with my mom and little Angela to drive my aunts and cousins to the airport. The prospect of saying goodbye was weighing on my heart, so to cheer myself up, I led the under-seven crowd in a Christmas Carol singalong.

We enjoyed funny British favorites from Tatiana and Andrei - one went, "A New Year's resolution is a wonderful thing to do, until you break it" - and pulled out a few Spanish tunes in accord with our shared cultural heritage. Finally Angela and I began singing "Joy to the World," and the lyrics struck me as they never have before.

"He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His Love..."

Perhaps the nations need to prove the glories of His righteousness, but of His love no proof is necessary. It is evident in every element of this season, in our families and homes and faith. God is good. Of that I have never been so sure.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas!

No comments:

Post a Comment