To most of the world, today is Thursday.
To most Americans, today is Tax Day.
But to the Luquet family, today is much more special than that.
Today is Lora Day.
It was eight years ago on this day that our family, Marty, Daniel, Courtney, myself and a little baby girl named Lora Leigh, went to the St. Charles Parish court house with butterflies in our stomachs and joy in our hearts. And after but a short wait, Judge Emile St. Pierre declared what we already knew -- that we were a family forever.
A tax deduction, he said.
So much more than that.
How about a dream come true? An answered prayer? A miracle?
Certainly a gift from God.
And a woman named Gail.
For six long, painful years we tried, we yearned, we hoped, we prayed. And time and again we cried and wondered why. And we searched for answers. There were none, until a brave woman chose us to parent her child when she felt that she could not.
And our prayers were answered in a different way.
"God has three answers to our prayers:
2. Not yet.
3. I have a better plan."
Tonight at dinner, we recounted the events of the first Lora Day to a now 9-year-old little girl who has no memories of it and no idea how special it was.
We told her about our trip to the court house and our wait in the courtroom. When she got a little fussy, I took her into the hall to pace. Then Judge St. Pierre called us all into his chambers where we signed papers and posed for pictures. Then the whole family came to our house to celebrate.
I had asked everyone to write her a message that day -- a wish, a hope, a prayer. Some were simple and sweet. Others were sentimental and all-encompassing. We read them all (or tried to - we cried A LOT), then put them in a box so she could read them one day.
Then I pulled out her big scrapbook and showed her the photos of us with the Judge and our attorney, her cake which proclaimed -- simply -- "Finally!" and the small pink Japanese Magnolia we bought and planted that day outside our dining room window.
It was a joyful memory.
But it wasn't long before my smart, inquisitive and oh-so-savvy 9-year-old came back to me with questions of her own.
"Mom," she said, looking worried. "I have a serious thought. I'm thinking how different my life would be if Gail had kept me with her."
"Yes, it would," I said. Carefully.
"I wouldn't even know you," she said.
"Probably not," I replied. "But I think you were supposed to be mine. That's why you are."
Everyone says that God works in mysterious ways. I certainly can't question that. I do believe this was the child I was destined to have all along, this mini-me who could not be more like me if we tried. It's as if God said, "Lori. I have a special one picked out for you. You just have to wait for her."
Lora had more questions swirling around her brain. She is beginning to wonder why she ended up with us and not the family she still knows, why her first mother could not keep her for herself. I will explain as best I can.
She did what she thought was best for you. She knew I would love you and take care of you. She knew you would be safe and happy. But she never stopped loving you or wanting you and she always will be in your life.
And if she asks, I will tell her:
She didn't give you away.
She gave you to me.