Saturday, July 28, 2012

Learning to say goodbye

I am not a huge fan of goodbyes.

Living here, I have had to learn how to say goodbye from time to time. Sometimes given weeks or months to process how to say goodbye; at other times quite suddenly. I am not sure which I dread most.

I have grown quite fond of this group of little people on our 2nd floor. It took months for them to warm up to me, but one day one finally warmed up, and eventually the others followed suit. Since then, rarely a day goes by that I don't stop in to see them. I have watched them go from crawling babies to running toddlers, full of life, laughter, and spunky personalities.

The first to warm up was Jillian, my sweet "Ji Ji"... we bonded over Cinderella. Each night, right around 7:15, her ayis would put in the movie and she out of all the kids seemed the most captivated by it. Cinderella is my favorite Disney movie, so I started sitting with her to watch, and soon sitting by her turned to her warmly snuggling up in my lap each evening. Sometimes we'd sing along (well, it was more like me humming and her laughing) and other times we'd dance. My favorite times though were when she would just snuggle up with me and let me hold her as we watched.

Slowly the others warmed up and night after night they would try to squeeze as many of their little bodies on my lap as possible. Going in to see them each night became a bit of a safe-haven for me. I knew that no matter what kind of day I'd had, I could always go see my little friends and even if just for a few moments forget the troubles of that day. They helped me remember why I was there.

This group of babies all came to MBH last spring with cleft lip and palate. Their lips had been fixed last summer, and they were all able to have their palates closed this summer. I knew eventually their time would come to return to their original orphanage. But in the meantime, I wanted to continue to soak in as much time with them as possible.

Over the past few months, we've enjoyed quite a few evening dance parties...

One day early this summer, Mikey graciously advised that I prepare myself for saying goodbye to them. Eventually, the email came that a couple of them would be leaving us to return to their original units. We had about a week's notice, so I was able to spend very intentional time with them. By this time, they had all grown so active and busy that Ji Ji would rarely stop to sit in my lap; we would play and dance and run, but rarely would we just sit. But something was different on her last night, almost as if she knew this was it. As 7:15 rolled around, her ayis put in a music video. She came and snuggled up in my lap as she had done months ago, and just let me hold her. She didn't seem to care about all the other kids dancing around her, she just sat and moved to the music in my lap. It was such a gift to have that time with her. I could think of no better way to have said goodbye.

I know that many more goodbyes will come during my time here. Each one will be unique and different. Some will be hard and others will be full of grace and peace. Some will come with hope, others will come with pain and unanswered questions. In whatever form they come, whether planned or unexpected, I want to know that I did all I could to love that child during the time that they were with us. I know I cannot do that for all of our children, but can do so for a few.

Thankfully, many of their leaves come with hope. A few months after their surgeries, we found out that many of them have been matched with families and will soon be adopted. It doesn't make saying goodbye easy, but it does give us great hope for their future.

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