Our only communication with Paulette comes through the weekly exchange of letters and, as you know if you've been following the blog, ours have been a little less than stellar.
This week, however, was different because we had big news to share. We asked Dave and Debbie to write letters to Paulette, to introduce themselves to her, and to share with her some of their feelings about inviting her into their home and family. They wrote beautiful letters—letters that made Kimberly and I tear up—and included some pictures that we will, hopefully, post on the blog soon. We also wrote Paulette a letter to tell her about the life-changing news.
The following account from Dave, who heard it from Nurse Debbie, who was up on the trail for her weekly check-ups when the mail arrived.
Before the letters were delivered, Paulette met with Nurse Debbie for her weekly physical exam. Afterward, Debbie asked Paulette some questions about herself, like what Paulette likes to do for fun. Paulette looked at her sideways. Debbie prompted her: "Do you like camping, outdoor things?" Paulette said she did, but that she was "kinda tired of it now." Debbie asked whether Paulette like music, and playing instruments, like the violin. (Before Anasazi, Paulette was first-chair violinist in her 6th grade orchestra). Paulette looked suspicious. She said "Yeah, but why are you asking?" Debbie said she was "just curious". A few more questions passed, including about piano lessons, and Debbie said good-bye to help the other kids.
At that point, Paulette received her first letter: the one from Kimberly and me. She sat down, opened it up, and started reading. A stunned look crossed her face, but there were no words. Then, as the letters from Dave and Debbie were delivered, she stood up and walked over to join the rest of her group. "I can't read them," she said. "I'm shaking. Can you read this letter for me?" The other girls, who are much older and have really taken a liking to Paulette, read her the letter aloud. All the girls were squealing and crying, telling Paulette "Congratulations!" Paulette just listened, taking it all in, and said she felt "so happy." When the girls said, "this is everything you said you wanted: you get to live with a Mormon family, and you get to be close to your sister!" She added, "I get to go to school in Utah!" (A lifelong dream of hers, and a reference to the time that she will spend at the Westridge Academy before moving in with Dave, Debbie, & co.).
After receiving the letters, Paulette visited with Debbie again, this time both of them knowing the big news. Paulette was fairly quiet, but asked questions. They talked about Dave and Debbie's family, their grandchildren, their home, what the family likes to do. They talked about the time Paulette would be in Utah (Dave and Debbie had been worried about how Paulette would respond to knowing she had a family, but not being able to live with them straight away. Fortunately, Paulette actually sounds excited about it for reasons noted above.) At good-bye, they hugged, and Paulette rejoined her group, where she spent the rest of the afternoon talking with the other youngwalkers, and trailwalkers, about how happy she was.
Of course, the talk of Paulette's big news dominated the day. At one point, all the girls were saying to Paulette: You get to be a sister! And have another sister! And have brothers! And you get to be an Aunt! (Paulette was pretty excited about that last one.) Someone asked Paulette what else she would be. She was quiet for a time, and then said "Well, I guess I'll be the baby of the family. I guess that will be okay." For Paulette—a little girl who took care of herself, her sister, and her mother from the time she was four years old—we think it will be precisely what she needs.