Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Orphaned No More
It's the final day.
The day we say goodbye to Capi and Divine forever.
Or at least until we board a plane and fly across the ocean to their village in Burundi.
The pain lives in my chest and seals my lips and then comes spilling out of my eyes.
Constant actually physical pain.
This morning, I mentally willed them to leave some of their things behind.
Things I could look at and hold later when I'm facing what is sure to be an unbearable void.
We loaded in the car and headed out in the rain to make their 9:20 drop off;
My sadness not lessened by the sounds of Sarah Maclaughlin singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on the stereo.
Sarah can make anything even more sad than it already is with her voice.
I don't remember most of the drive.
I feel like I had spend the majority of it looking at their faces in the rear-view mirror.
Trying to memorize them.
Their beautiful and perfect smiles.
They just sat silently looking out the rain drenched windows.
It was as if the gray of the outside had invaded everything
- spreading like a drop of ink in water and turning everything murky.
I thought about the last 6 months.
I thought about the first time I saw them.
I had been disappointed they were so old.
I'd thought the little ones would be cuter.
I had no idea the impact those two girls dressed in pale blue Asante shirts would have on me and my family.
That our lives were about to be permanently intertwined with girls we had never seen from a country we'd never even heard of.
I remember trying to even understand what they were saying their names were at first.
I made Capi say hers four times.
Capita? Capitola? Capitilli?
Just call her Capi.
I remember thinking Divine looked sad and feeling that that look of needing nurturing behind her eyes was perfect work for me.
I wanted to fix it.
The first day, in a sea of dark faces, they'd looked all the same.
We had trouble figuring out which one was which.
Which ones we were taking.
But now, after all this time, we can pick them out in a dark room, just by the way their shadows walk.
We've memorized them.
That Capi prefers her breakfast hot, and denies she snores.
That she's a joker and full of mischief.
That she likes saying "No" to a question just to get a rise out of you.
"Capi, Do you see the house with 5000 lights right in front of you?" "No."
That she likes being tickled and loves to help with the baby,
which I gladly let her do anytime she wants now after finding out about the time she walked, at the age of four, with her sick baby brother on her back for miles in the jungle trying to find help for him.
Help that I don't think ever came.
So I let her hold all she wants.
Then she teases Paige about being fat with love in her voice.
Her voice that sounds like a song, somehow.
In spite of the unimaginable she's suffered.
I know that Divine is by far the Fresh Beat Band's number one fan.
That she loves thoughts of mystery.
We taught her about the tooth fairy.
She taught us true Christmas as she literally danced with joy over a gift of a bag of Doritos, which are her "best food."
What a lesson to learn.
Divine is smart and quiet.
I can see something deep and painful in her eyes, but her laugh sounds like Tigger and it brims over with joy.
"Hoo hoo hoo!"
I thought about how our pictures with them span the seasons.
That the first ones we have are of us in the yard painting and spraying each other with the hose. We were warm and smiling unsure smiles.
Not knowing really what to expect from our meeting.
Now they are all wearing hats and coats and we're looking at Christmas lights and the looks in our eyes say FAMILY.
We went to the fair.
We went swimming.
We went to a movie.
We went to In N Out.
Now each time we do those things, they will be haunted with the memory of the two girls who changed our hearts forever.
I don't know how I'll do it.
How I'll let go tonight and turn around and walk away.
How I'll make my hands un-clasp.
I don't know how I'll comfort my kids who will be devastated.
I want to lay in front of their bus,
but instead, I make sure their travel bottles of shampoo are filled.
Crying as I do it.
It's too little.
It's not enough.
They've made my own needs feel small.
What a beautiful, meaningful gift!
What a blessing and a relief to take our eyes off of ourselves.
I wrote them letters that I will give to them tonight as we watch their final performance and say goodbye.
This is what I wrote, in a way they could understand:
I hope they never forget us.
I know we'll never ever forget them.
The orphaned girls who were orphans no more.