I haven't written an "Ethiopia Day 4" post........it hurts too much. I couldn't face the pain.....couldn't handle forming the hurt into words.
I spent my last day in Ethiopia with Natalie at the Transition Home. She was moody and I was trying not to be, but it was hard. We both knew the inevitable was going to happen.....I was going to get in a car and drive off without her. And leave the country. And not see her again for who knows how long.
For at least two hours, Natalie sat in my lap. We didn't talk. She just walked over to me and crawled into my lap and I just held her. Other kids came over and played and chattered around us but we were on a tiny island, surrounded by the ocean of our pain.
I don't really feel like elaborating on the rest of the day......we spent more time with the little boy who sings (Natalie made sure I said good bye to him :)) and then we watched all the videos in my phone again, and I taught her how to make rainbow loom bracelets (Z is SO proud of her).
Funny side note about the rainbow loom: Natalie is JUST like me. So independent. So Type A. She wanted to figure out the rainbow loom by HERSELF and when it didn't work out/look right, she was not happy. But she still didn't want help. I waited till she was ready, and then I showed her one more time. She tried again, and kept taking it apart until it looked perfect. SO. MY. CHILD.
When driver arrived, we walked out to the car. After what happened Wednesday, I expected her to break down but she is TOUGH. She held out her hand to do Levi's secret (which isn't really a secret anymore, I guess! ;)) handshake. Then she stood silently, shoulders straight, staring at me. I started crying. She was trying to be SO strong.......correction, she IS so strong.......and she just watched. No emotion. No tears.
And that hurt worse than anything. Because my baby's heart was breaking and she had no one to comfort her.....so she was being strong for herself and locking her hurt away.
I was sobbing at that point. I signed, "I PROMISE I will come back for you. I PROMISE!!!!!" She nodded, once. I climbed into the car and she turned away. I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest, slowly killing me.
She turned around......and I saw a river of tears streaming down her beautiful, stoic face.
I reached for her and she ran over to the window. I handed her my headband, one she loved, and she gave me one short nod, and then turned and walked quickly away. She didn't turn around again. And I left my heart there, in the
The shell of what was left of me went through the motions of the rest of the day. Pick up some Amharic worship music for Z. Pack. Go to the airport. Get through customs. Get on my plane. Travel for 30 hours. Just like when we left Levi and Z, I didn't do anything on the 18 hour flight from Addis to Dulles. I just sat there. I couldn't eat, couldn't stand. I didn't get up from my seat once. I felt like the life had been drained out of me and I was just trying not to drown in the pain. 18 hours of just trying to BREATHE and not lose myself to hysteria.
After 30 hours, I finally got back to our home airport. I was dying to hug Abe and the kids.....and when I came around corner, I saw them (and Aaron!) waiting for me, with HUGE signs saying, "Welcome Home, Mom," and 'WE LOVE YOU!!!!".....just as if I was coming home with Natalie and they were the welcome home groupies. It was AMAZING. I felt SO loved, so special. They made it seem like I was a hero....and I ran the terminal to them. Z jumped into my arms.........and started crying her eyes out. Abe and Levi engulfed me in HUGE hugs. It was the best homecoming ever.
When we all got back to the house, I got another surprise. They had cleaned the house till it was sparkling, and decorated it with streamers, tons of Valentine's paper hearts, and Happy Birthday balloons. It was beautiful. And it eased some of the pain in my aching heart. I am so grateful to have two children here to love on and hug when I am hurting for Natalie. That makes it a little easier than last time. And they UNDERSTAND me. We have all been on the other side. We have all waited on forever, experienced the intense pain of separation, and they GET me. They don't mind that I cry, that I squeeze them one hundred times a day, that sometimes my hurt can't be comforted. And I love them all the more for it. I am so blessed by my precious family.
Update as of yesterday: my agency called me three times yesterday. We were submitted to court on Monday, but because we haven't started our PAIR process, we WILL fail. I was given the go-ahead to fill out our PAIR paperwork. I spent five hours yesterday, organizing 62 pieces of paperwork. I'm waiting on one more, which was promised to me for today, and then I will be mailing all of it to USCIS.
I was quoted an 8 month minimum until we travel for court. At which point, I broke down in tears again yesterday. But now I am refusing to believe that. I am refusing to believe that God will allow Natalie to sit there, all alone and isolated, by herself, for 8 more months.
I'm believing in miracles. And I've seen them so many times before.