Right now, Big L is on a plane over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Late last night, we went to the store to pick up the family photos from yesterday and get some last minute things. I asked Big L what she needed and she hesitated for a bit, then told me “shampoo”. More hesitation and then the gesture for hair ties. “Anything else? … toothpaste? toothbrush? (joking) a diaper?” “Hmmm… mama to go to [home country].” Oh my girl, how I wish I could.
We woke her up very early this morning. When she walked out of the bathroom after getting dressed, wearing the Me + Family = Awesome shirt that she picked out for this hard day, her eyes were red and puffy. I held my arms out and she curled her body into mine. Her face was pressed against my sleeve and I could barely feel that silent, painful cry that all orphans know. I had no magic words, nothing to make this morning better. I just kissed her forehead, told her that I love her, and held her there as long as I could. Sometimes, there’s no better, no numbing the pain.
Many people have told me they could never host because they couldn’t do the goodbye. Well, folks, it’s just as hard as you think it is. The anticipation of that goodbye has been sneaking up on me all week and the emotion hit me when she walked out the door. But, the goodbye reminded me exactly why we host. The hard goodbye tells me that we did it right. We loved her well and once again, we became her family. We gave her a small break from the hard life of a parent-less preteen and a soft place to land away from the conflicts of her “real life”. 3.5 weeks just to be a kid. 3.5 weeks to get all of the hugs and kind words and love that we could give her. So, yes, the goodbye was hard, but it was so, so worth it. We did our best and loved her well. And, she loved us well, too.
We’re aching over here, missing the daughter and big sister we all love. Gus told me today, “Mama, I fink I wost [Big L]. I wooked for her and I can’t find her.” Lots of people have asked if we have plans to host her again and/or adopt her. We haven’t made any plans yet, which isn’t to say that it won’t happen, but it’s unclear at the moment. We’re taking things one day at a time and praying for her future.