“Finally!” she whispered at her reflection in the mirror as if saying the words aloud guaranteed success. The makeup she applied did nothing for the worry lines and sad mouth pasted above a sagging chin.
“It very well better happen this time: I feel like a beggar every time we see these people.”
Jane and Max had been married 15 years, childless years juxtaposed against their need to surround themselves with kids. They never blamed God or each other. Self-blame was harder to reject, the unanswered question never voiced, but hanging in the air like the odor of rotten food.
Why us? Why not us? Why?
“Hurry, Honey, we certainly don’t want to be late,” Max yelled from the kitchen as he jingled the car keys, his voice impatient in spite of himself.
“I’m ready,” Jane lighten her voice so he didn’t sense her fear.
This wasn’t the first time they considered adoption but it was probably their last. Agencies wanted younger parents. Yes, this would be their last attempt and they decided to accept any child no matter the age, sex or ethnic origin. If they were to be parents God would provide without their intervention.
“Did the agency tell you anything about the child they have for us?” Max asked, trying to erase the heavy silence in the car.
“No,” Jane replied for the umpteenth time. She realized he was as nervous as she and added more softly, “remember, we didn’t request specifics, not even sex or age.”
“I know, just like we were having our own: surprise is part of it.”
“This child will be our own, hopefully,” she said more to the passing scenery than to Max. He didn’t hear her.
Twenty-five minutes later they turned through an iron gate into a long drive that ended in front of a three-story, pillared veranda stretching the full length of an imposing, cold stone building. Jane tucked away a fleeting memory of the last time they were there. The child they came for failed to thrive and died that day, before they could see her. She had been a newborn: today they knew nothing about this child.
They held hands as they approached the front door: Jane both feared and embraced what was to come. Either way the longing would be finally addressed: they would leave with a child or they would give up.
Mrs. Miller met them just inside the huge polished door.
“So happy to see you again. I have a delightful three-year-old girl for you to meet.” They trailed into her office, Jane cringing at the memory of other times they had been there together but still left childless.
Jane rattled off impatient questions:
Where had she been for three years?
Where were her parents or caregivers now?
Would they want to take her back someday?
Was there something wrong with her?
Was that why she hadn’t been adopted?
Mrs. Miller explained, “The little girl has been raised by grandparents who have recently died in an accident. Her parents also died in an accident soon after her birth. We’ve only had her a couple of months. She’s healthy and very intelligent. Our only problem is (here it comes, Jane thought) she keeps asking for the new mommy and daddy her grandparents promised her.”
Max and Jane took a long look at each, then nodded.
“Can we see her?” Max asked.
“Certainly. Go through that door,” and Mrs. Miller pointed to a large, ornate door leaving the back of her office. Jane reached it first, Max right behind her, and they pushed into a room full of sunlight, flowers and a little girl sitting in the middle of a huge upholstered bench under the window.
“Hi! Where have you been? I’ve been waiting so long for you to come get me.”
The tiny girl jumped from the bench and tried to run toward Max and Jane but her feet twisted around each other at the ankles and she started to fall. Jane reached her first. The girl’s smiling, blue eyes went from glee to fear and back. Max watched as his wife and the child literally ran into each other, Jane’s arms preventing the fall. After a moment of surprise in both girls’ faces they hugged each other.
“I’ve been waiting for you too,” Jane replied. “What’s your name?”
“Patience. I knew you would come if I just waited long enough.”
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