Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 5: Goodbye

Though I'd been dreading this day for months, it actually started out great.   I woke up and creepily stared at my daughter,  asleep just inches from me.

She awoke, sat up, and looked uncertainly around.  Remember,  she had gone to sleep in a different room the night before...  This was the expression she woke up with (excuse the bad iPhone photos):

But within moments,  she was her goofy self:

We shared breakfast in the room.  She was a big fan of eggs.  Shortly after she woke up,  she joined Team Rob.  She wanted exactly nothing to do with me,  and would only allow Rob to hold or help her,  or give her things.  At first I was fine with it,  after all,  Rob had received the majority of her grunting for the previous days,  and I was glad that they had bonded.

After another nice long bath, she busied herself with eating crackers and drinking ice cold water-  which she was a huge fan of.  She wasn't warming up to me,  so I busied myself with packing.  Every time I packed one more thing,  the weight of our departure grew heavier.

I was just so sad.  I couldn't imagine dropping her off and leaving for months.  MONTHS.  I loved Sitota for years.  And while I yearned for her before our court trip,  I'd grown accustomed to being apart.  The last time I said good-bye,  it was to one of far too many orphans.  But now, I was expected to say good-bye to my daughter.  Not an orphan.  My daughter.

I packed with a heavy heavy heart.  Rob,  acutely aware of my heartache that Sitota wanted nothing to do with me,  left us alone for just a few minutes.  She still glared at me,  so I ignored her,  and took my camera out to take a photo of the view from our window.  When I turned back to her,  she was watching the camera intently.  So I pointed it at her.

100% Ham.  We proceeded to have a little photo shoot.  Smiling, goofing,  hamming it up.  It was nice to have her laughing and smiling with me again.  She was definitely still keeping her distance,  but she wasn't grunting at me.

Maybe she knew that if she was super snuggly and loving than I would never be able to leave...

Dani came to pick us up to bring her back.  Sitota was happy to see him.  She snuggled in with Rob for the ride back to the care center.

I wish I had thought to take some pictures on the way back to the care center.  It was pretty scary.  I don't think I have ever seen rain fall like that.  And while the roadways are being improved,  there is a lot of work to be done.  The care center was about 30 minutes from the guest house.  At one point we were driving up a fairly steep incline,  and the water rushing down the hill was up to the hubcaps on Dani's Toyota Corolla (circa 1985).

It was also dark.

Crying made Dani and Tam a little uncomfortable.  We had talked about it earlier,  and they explained to us that... well...  **Generalization Alert**  Americans- especially women-  were cry babies and it often made Ethiopians uncomfortable.  So, despite the darkness,  I donned Rob's sunglasses in effort to disguise my swollen, red eyes.  I could barely see.  During the ride,  I also explained to Dani that I was not goting to be able to talk when we were there,  but I would appreciate it if he would thank the nannies for us.  I felt like I saw pure joy when I watched Sitota interact with some of the women who work at the care center.  Toddlers wear their emotions on their sleeves, as we had experienced 1st hand,  and I felt like Sitota was loved and loved many of the women.  It was Dani's job to express this to the folks at the care center,  while I avoided eye contact and doled out the supplies I had brought for the kids.

And then it was time,  and I didn't dare try to hold her.  I went to her, tried to smile and say "ciao," and blow her a zillion kissed.  I choked out "amaseganalo," and bolted for the car. 

And as I shut the door,  I am sure they all looked at each other and wondered why the sad American Mama was wearing sunglasses on the darkest day of the century.

Pause.  Seriously,  how did we leave?  I still have no idea.

Dani and Tam took us out to dinner before we went to the airport.  We were super silly.  We talked about girlfriends and prospective wives.  We talked about careers and dreams.  We told jokes and we shared pictures on our phones.  We told stories and laughed some more.

It was a perfect way to end a very difficult day.

Then Dani and Tam dropped us at the airport.  In one of the many lines we were in, we were joined by a wee Ethiopian in a stroller whose little voice sounded exactly like the punk we were leaving behind.  Reassuring to Rob, troubling to me.

And then,  25ish hours later, we pulled into our driveway in Maine.  So anxious to see the 3 punks,  so devastated to be without the littlest, newest, most Ethiopian punk of all.

And now,  It is Sunday night.  2 months and 3 days since we arrived home.

I could write about the excitement and enthusiasm we've experienced in that time period.  Or the fear and discouragement.  Or the fatigue.  Oh,  the fatigue.

But instead,  I am going to tell you about how I am going to climb into bed tonight and get a great night's sleep.  That is a lie.  I am going to wake up often, phone in hand, anxious to get the email from the United States Embassy that our case has, at long last,  been accepted.


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