"How are you? Can I take your order?"
Oh no, keep it together..."May I have..."I choked through the order and drove off with my nonfat latte without the lady realizing I was a hot mess.
How are you? How are you?
How am I?
|Picture message sent to Alex before he had to turn his phone on airplane mode|
Everyone told me it will be hard when they leave. I thought I had my guard up. I thought I was prepared.
But I wasn't...I was not ready.
But, I felt ready. Suitcases and carry-on's packed. A gift bought for their director for allowing them to come. Clothes washed and folded and ready to wear on the plane. Teary eyed teenagers, sent to bed at 9:30 to be well rested for a long 23 hours of traveling.
But I was not ready, I was not ready to say goodbye. I was not ready to send them back to a country at war. To a place that they fear. Where they do not have a mommy to comfort them. To be orphans again.
My 3 year old told Yana, "I go too, I go on the airplane too."
"No Elliot! You no want to go Ukraine. Es bad, I no want to go, you stay here."
The kids opened their presents, as soon as they got up around 4:00am this morning. Shutterfly hardback books, filled with memories for them to keep. They both escaped to their rooms for a moment, to privately remember each picture. Each day. How they felt.
I offered them breakfast and they both refused. They piled into the car. Yana and Elliot slept. Alex listen to music and Lily realizing what we were doing, asked questions, many many questions.
Does Yana have toys in Ukraine?
Who will feed Lady and Jezebel?
How long do they fly?
Can they buy gum?
She never asked if they were coming back, or if we'd see them again. Something I was waiting for. Maybe she didn't want to know the answer. Maybe she knew I don't know the answer.
We arrived at the airport, my brother was waiting with McDonald's in the arrival area next to his car with his engine running. He was now late for work because of us. We were late arriving to LAX, and when we first walked up he was noticeably irritated, but then he realized...Somethings are worth being late for, some people are worth saying goodbye to.
He hugged both kids. Alex began to cry...
That's when I started to lose it. I stepped backwards to try to put on a tough front. The lump in my throat and the shallow breaths to stop myself. Can't cry yet.
I was not ready!
I was not ready to send them back, still hoping for a miracle, as an hour ticked by. We were still waiting to check in. Thinking, this is sooooo God, waiting for the last minute so we can only give Him the glory.
Waiting for something, anything. Something amazing so the kids do not have to go. (People call it denial, I call it HOPE.)
Yana prayed "the plane broke" so she would not have to leave. She prayed that prayer every night this week. Would that be the case? Would they not have to leave. Please let that be the case.
There was a problem...
The chaperone's passport did not match the name on the ticket. The ticket was spelled wrong. So we waited. We hung out. We laughed. We ate McDonald's. It's now 8:20am, and the small group of us start talking, their not going to make their plane? They depart at 9:10. A glimmer of hope for all of us.
BUT, that was not His plan. At 8:30 we were quickly following the other 3 families 15 yards in front of us to the escalators to help get them through security. We fell behind. We were the only family that had small children with us and we couldn't keep up. When we joined the group at the escalators, there was some confusion. They would not let us up to help them.
This is it. Say goodbye.
Yana would not look up at me. She put up her wall. The one we knocked down over and over again this summer. The one she uses to push away all feeling, the good and the bad. It was up and she began to walk away from us, and this time we couldn't knock it down again. We both hugged her and so did the girls. "I love you Yanie" Elliot told her. Yana was the first up the escalator. She did not turn around, she only faced forward.
She knows she is going to a place where she needs that wall, she is going to a place where there is nothing else to protect her.
Alex cried, and he hugged me. He was so sad and showed every bit of it. In front of his friend, in front of his sister, he didn't care.
I miss you, I miss you. I love you. Keem, you my mom.
I could not form words, I was crying so much. He was the last one to go up the escalator, wiping his eyes under his new glasses. Waving and crying.
I picked Lily up to comfort her.
I was not ready!
I was not ready to get down on my knees and hold my sobbing 5 year old because Alex and Yana were now out of sight, and she loves them too much.
I was not ready for the tears on the ride home and the 3 year olds questions, "Where is Alex?" noticing he is not in the seat next to her.
"Alex went home to Ukraine."
"I want him at my home."
"Me too, baby."
It was hard. Really hard.
My best friend sent me this scripture in a text message. It carried me today.
He has taught me to be a better person. To live for Him.
I didn't know I could love so deeply, so quickly. I didn't know my life would be changed so dramatically.