I'm knee deep in a training schedule for the Austin marathon. Running—always with the dog, often with the Pops next to me pushing our Cheerio-gobbler—has proven to be a terrific head-clearer. It's fall now in Texas, which means crisp perfection with just enough of a cozy early morning chill. It's so strange not being hot anymore. Stranger still seeing Ava in hoodies and little pairs of jeans with butterflies on the pockets. I counted up the days since we first met. Five months, six days. I realize that Ava has now been with us longer than she was with her family at home, and then with her patchwork family at the Gladney Care Center. I wonder if somewhere in her subconscious she is able to let out a soft exhale that perhap she will not go on and on and on finding herself in the care of new people.
When I run I listen to the same mix of songs. This is the first song.
Every time I hear it I'm brought to tears. For me it captures the build and urgency of our adoption process—from the mournful beginning to the steady summoning of breath and strength to the heart-pounding moment of referral to the cymbal crashing trip to Ethiopia. There's even a little lullaby whistle at the end, when we laid her down for her first sleep in her new home. Sometimes I imagine in hazy fashion what this same time period might have looked and felt like for my little girl and my heart feels clotheslined. There I am with my family, gasping to myself, and wondering how it is we all found ourselves running towards and then finally alongside each other.