I find it interesting that I am actually able to sit down to write tonight. Yesterday and today have been pretty surreal. I find my mind drifting and my thoughts all jumbled into one huge mess in my head. Where do I begin? Obviously good-byes are always hard, but, if you are lucky enough, you have planned your next face to face and have something to look forward to. This is not the case at the current moment for us. So to say that I catch myself finding it hard to breath is an understatement.
As I said, Valerii came to us by chance. We chose Zhenya. The difference in those two personalities is something you could never imagine. I chose Zhenya because of the twinkle in his eye, the mischief in his smile, the freckles on his nose, and the beautiful red hair he has. What lay beneath the surface of his exterior is something I don’t think I was ever prepared for or will ever completely wrap my brain around, but I don’t regret him coming here for one minute. Valerii is someone who snuck into our home and completely stole our hearts. I will never ever believe this was anything short of fate. Whether it was God or destiny, all I know is that that boy was meant to be here. And he will never leave my heart for one second for the rest of my life.
As we drove them to the airport, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I am usually pretty strong, but my heart was melting and aching at the same moment. Melting while looking at the cool new hair cuts Valerii and Zhenya were sporting and aching that this was goodbye. We tried to explain to Valerii that he was going back to the Ukraine but it just seemed like he wouldn’t accept what we were saying. We approached the airport and he started pointing at the planes yelling Sasha! Sasha! I suddenly realized that in his mind, we were pulling into Newark Airport to pick up his sister so we could all live happily ever after. I’m sorry to say that this was the farthest from the truth.
As we waited for his group to come through from their connecting flight, I told him that he would be getting on a plane to go back to the Ukraine. “You will be leaving with me?” I swallowed the lump in my throat as I answered no. “You will come tomorrow?” The tears dripped down my cheek as I again had to say no. “I will never see you? You will never come?” I didn’t lie when I explained that I would do everything in my power to see him again, and I will stand by that until the day I die. He simply said to me “I will not go.” I think he believed in his heart that Rob wouldn’t allow this to happen. The relationship the two of them had developed in the last two weeks of his stay is something I will forever admire my husband for.
I never expected Rob to open his heart to these boys the way he did. The patience he displayed, his ability to get through to them on a different level than I sometimes could, his playfulness, his genuine love for them, his compassion to their needs, and how he threw all that he “was” out the door to change his life for them is something that leaves me feeling indebted to him. I’m happy. I’m happy that Zhenya and Valerii, for the first time, knew the love of a father. They knew that “Papa is good.” But at the same time, I knew that Valerii’s separation from Rob would crush him. Equally crushing would be his departure from Anthony. Not as if it surprised me, but Anthony’s resilience through the tough times, his desire to help these boys, and the love he showed them despite the circumstances left me feeling proud of my son once again. Through the broken toys, the bumps and bruises, the need to suddenly share his Mom and Dad, Anthony continued to be his loving and happy self. While his relationship with Zhenya was a tumultuous roller coaster, him and Valerii became brothers. They would laugh together, kiss each other goodnight, and look out for one another day after day. He still walks through the house yelling “Larrrrrrry??????” (The nickname Valerii gained as a result of Anthony’s limited language at this moment 🙂 )
I hugged Valerii tight and we held on for a while near the gates. I pulled his face away from me, kissed him and said “I love you. Be a good boy.” NO MAMA! NO! I couldn’t stop crying. I told him to go hug his Dad and he did. In usual Anthony fashion, my son came over to comfort him. He hugged his head, kissed his forehead, wiped his tears, grabbed his face and kissed his cheek saying “K, Larry?” When it was his final moment with us, Valerii wouldn’t go. He had to be pulled away from us which hurt so much more. There is no feeling of pain I have ever experienced like this moment. Our son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and it didn’t hurt that bad. After thinking about it I realize that this is because I knew Anthony would be ok. I’m not with Valerii to know the same for him.
Zhenya is an amazing little boy in so many ways, but he really tested us. His issues were far beyond the realm of my ability to provide him with what he needed. Although this is the case, I can confidently say that I tried my hardest. And I do think that, for him, my hardest was good enough to get us all through this. I saw great changes in him while he was here, but the minute we got to the airport and he returned to the familiar I saw all that leave him. He gave us a simple goodbye and was on his way. Zhenya is inquisitive and curious, he is silly and tenacious, he is playful and energetic. I always loved the way he puckered his lips to me when he had done something wrong. He knew my weaknesses and he played to them and for that I can say he is so smart. If I could take all the pain of his past, the scars of what came before us, the trauma that has left him broken, I would jump through hoops to do that. But I can’t. And for that reason I must only say I will continue to love him with all my heart and to pray for his well being. I can hope that he felt my love, that it will change him in some way, that he knows that he is so deserving of what I offered him these last three weeks and so much more. He will always be my little mischievous red headed Z and I will always be his Mama. I’ll miss his affection, his needs, and his laugh. I love that boy.
Throughout our constant need to provide Zhenya with a watchful eye and lots and lots of attention, Valerii was emerging as a perfect fit for our family. He is so smart. He picked up on many English words right away. He is meticulous, neat, and organized. In many ways, he reminds me of Rob. He enjoys being clean, putting on his cologne, dressing up, wearing a watch. Rob became his role model and he copied his every move. His love of music, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks makes me laugh when Rob says “he is YOUR son!” He is artistic and creative. He is thoughtful and helpful. He is kind. He is protective, strong, and steadfast. He is so, so loyal. And much to my surprise, Valerii is loving. In a world where he doesn’t no much of what we do, he is a devoted, inspiring, and loving soul. I honestly never expected it from him, but he blew me away. He grabbed a huge part of my heart, packed it in his little green backpack, and took it right off to the Ukraine with him without looking back. He needed that to get him through, but I am confident he will bring it back when I see him again. He will care for it as if it is worth a million dollars.
To the two boys who instantly became our sons. This home is so void without you. I thought I was missing peace and quiet, but I have realized I don’t miss it at all. I miss you! Each day will be a day of wondering, of worrying, but of hoping that I will see you soon. You have taught me so much more than I could have ever taught you. You have given me so much more than I have to give. You have loved me as much as I love you, and that has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.Я люблю и скучаю по тебе мои сладкие мальчики! Don’t worry, somehow, someway, some day, we’re coming for you. And we won’t stop until we fulfill our promise.