We said goodbye. The pain was excruciating for me. I can’t remember a time in my life I have cried harder or longer. I cried for days leading up to his departure. The thought of possibly never seeing this beautiful child again felt more than my heart could bear. Would I wonder every day what he was doing? Is he standing strong against temptations. Is he being protected from bullies. Is he OK??
I feel a mama’s love for this boy who isn’t even mine. That God allowed me to mother and minister to him is one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced. I was able to witness life flowing through this child. I watched as his body physically grew while he was receiving love and nourishment. The clothes he came with just didn’t fit when he left. He grew an inch while he was with us. He probably gained about 7 pounds.
Departure day was a solemn day. We tried our best to paste on fake smiles and present ourselves optimistically. But anyone who knows me, knows I just can’t fake it. He knew I didn’t want to let him go.
I opened the door to his room. This would be the last time I could walk in and see that sleeping boy in that bed. I wouldn’t get to say “Labrite” to him again.
With a smile on my face, I started turning on lights, “Good morning, sleepy heads. Time to get up.”
He opened his eyes, gave me that sweet smile I adore, and said, “Me no go Latvia.”
I just smiled back. I know he doesn’t want to go back. “Your brothers will be so happy to see you again. You are going to have so much fun.” He just shook his head. Latvia just isn’t America. We are so blessed here.
We all began getting ready and doing final round ups. No one had much of an appetite. For the first time since he had been with us, he didn’t want to eat. He smiled, but it wasn’t his happy smile. It was his coping smile.
Thinking McDonald’s would bring some cheer, we stopped on our way to the airport. When we finally arrived at the airport, we waited for 2 painful hours. He never left our side to rejoin the other children. He just stayed with us. Quietly. Several times he said, “Me no go Latvia.”
When they gave us the final goodbye message, I thought I was going to be sick. I squeezed him with everything I had and never wanted to let go. All of the sudden, he appeared so little to me. He was a little, little boy. This child traveling to the other side of the world to a life as an orphan. No one to tuck him in. No one to heal his “ouchies”. No one to say “Mom watch!”
Getting through security took awhile. We stayed until we could no longer see him. Several times he looked through the crowd to find us. And when he met our eyes, he smiled and waved back. He witnessed me crying these uncontrollable sobs. Crying like I’ve never cried in public before. And just like that he was gone.
The crying never eased up the car ride home. But at least I was crying with no regrets. 4 weeks we invested in his life. We gave him experiences he wouldn’t have had. We gave him hope. We gave him love. We showed him Jesus. We provided for his needs. We loved him. And that is more than he would have had in Latvia for those 4 weeks. We did what we had hoped to do. We just had no idea we would love him the way we did. Or that it would rip our hearts out to see him leave.
If I could share my heart with Viktors, this is what I would say.
Watching you leave, saying goodbye to you, was one of the most painful moments of my life. When you left, a piece of my heart left with you. And a piece of yours was left with me.
You are a good boy. A very good boy. You have a heart that desires to do what is right. You are positive and filled with joy despite your circumstances. You love life and it radiates through you.
We hosted you so that we could bless you. But you are the one who blessed us. You impacted our lives in ways we never imagined.
Who will jump out of dark corners and scare me when I’m not expecting it? Who will get my mail everyday? Who will close the garage for me? Who will point out every single Mustang we pass on the road? Who will plow through a bushel of bananas a day? Who will tell me they love me in Latvian and Russian?
I find myself counting my kids and feeling like one is missing. Because you are missing. We miss you terribly. Every time we turn around we are reminded of you. The first time the boys went outside to play, it wasn’t the same with you not out there. They came in missing you, wanting you back, wishing they had spent more time with you while you were here.
You are loved, Viktors. You are dearly loved. God has a wonderful plan for your life. We are trusting in His perfect timing. So just wait on God. He will deliver you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. You are His child.
When you close your eyes at night, I hope you can feel my arms around your shoulders. I hope you can feel my kiss on your cheek. I hope you can hear my voice telling I love you and to sleep well. And when you wake up in the morning, I hope you can feel me rubbing your back, whispering labrite. I hope when you see a cross, you remember the love of Jesus we shared with you. I hope each day you reflect on the memories we created together and they bring you warmth and comfort.
We love you. And we will pray for you every single day for the rest of our lives.