Last night we saw the most engaged, extended pretend play from R. that we have ever seen. Airplanes are something the figure strongly into her day-to-day observations, no doubt because of the momentous place they have played in her recent existence. Knowing this, I bought her a pretend airplane thinking it would be a way to work through all that upheaval. When we first showed it to her a couple of months ago, she was vaguely interested, but after having pushed it around a bit and looked at the people inside, she was pretty much done. So I put it away for a while. Last night while we were fixing dinner, R. was looking for something to do so I suggested the airplane. R. thought that sounded like fun, so I flew it over to her.
From there, she took off. (Pun intended.) Suddenly, she had named the people in the airplane and announced that they were all going to China. "I hungry! I go China! I see J-- Mama and K-- Jiejie [the names of two very special people whom she lived with]!" she said as she flew the airplane around the room. "Long, long time!" she added as she continued to fly the airplane around the room. "I go home!" R. repeated over and over as the plane flew around and around.
"Oh... where is home, R.?" I asked.
"China! I go China! I go home!" R. said.
And that pretty much sums up the last five months. It is both heart breaking and encouraging to hear these words. Heart breaking because there is such untouched grief inside there that only time will dull, but so encouraging because grief acknowledged is so much better than grief buried. A much more verbal parallel grief is being played out by Y. "I want to see my China family, Mama," she will say to me at least once a day.
"I know, Y. I wish we could fly to China to go visit them," I reply.
"I want to send my China family a picture, Mama," Y. says.
"I think we could do that," I say.
"Oh, thank you, Mama!" R. says as she gives me a big hug.
The airplane is out again this morning. R. has even drawn a picture of the airplane which looks actually similar to an airplane. It feels like a giant step towards healing and I anticipate many, many more trips to China via our new favorite toy.