Eventually, we ended up sharing a chair and I whipped out my phone to capture the moment. Ella enjoyed looking at herself and Mommy in the phone as I snapped our picture, as she saw me mimicking her, as she saw herself hamming it up. We both giggled a lot. When we got home, I had fun making a photo collage and posting it on Facebook.
As I returned to look at it a couple of times, the enormity of it hit me: when she became my daughter, I really had no idea if moments like these would ever happen, could ever happen. When she became my daughter, legally that is, she was so shut down yet combative that her father and I thought her likely to be on the autism spectrum. She simply didn't respond to much of anything. Her deep dark eyes hid her soul rather than revealing it.
Month by month, year by year, she opened up, she blossomed, she became our daughter, emotionally that is. We no longer think she may be on the spectrum but instead realize that her sensory issues at times cause the world to be a difficult place for her to navigate. One thing she consistently and beautifully navigates, however, is her Mommy's heart. She knows now, deeply knows, how loved she is.
So today, when I held up a camera for some self portraits it showed more than I thought it would: it showed a miracle. The pictures show a girl who learned to love and trust and show love and and mirror facial cues when words wouldn't work. Oh, and it showed Ella, too.
Above all, it shows a mother and a daughter, hamming it up for the camera, arms around each other, laughing in the Texas sun.
And above all that? Love, pure and simple.