‘Hora Boliviana’ means Bolivian time; it means ‘come when you want to’. I didn’t want to. They told us 3:30, on Friday. The clock on my screen said 3:50 and I was still putzing around online. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I didn’t want it to be real. So I thought procrastination would nullify the inevitable? The brain goes a little crazy when crazy love’s involved.
Crazy love says you leave your family and move across the ocean to create a new one made up of rejects and marginalized little ones.
Crazy love says you spend more time with orphans who call you Aunt than you do with your blood relatives you left behind.
Crazy love says you make ends meet, even if though you wonder if the strain of it all will break you to an irreparable pile of shattered bits.
Crazy love says to dozens of children, “Come, carve your place in my heart, even though I know at any moment you could go walking away and tear a living piece right out of me.”
Crazy love says a weepy prayer of blessing, holding on to the tiny shoulders for just a minute more, all the while hoping desperately it’s all been enough.
We went to the “party”. At least it had all the components of a party: cute plates, brightly colored drinks, sweet snacks, guests, gifts, songs, even laughter and well wishes. My heart didn’t feel like celebrating. I tried to distract myself by watching the kids play with balloons and swing around over-sized gummy worms. Amidst the commotion I would catch my breath as I saw him from the corner of my eye. I wanted to push pause, and then rewind, and delay the departure.
We gathered in a circle. Some of the Dreamers spoke out blessings over Roberto. Fernando took three turns. One of the older girls led all the children in a prayer. Then the director asked me to do a final prayer over this little boy, to finish things up.
I said yes. I didn’t want to. My husband stood next to me. We each took a hand of the boy. Seven years of care, effort, and love came rushing through my heart and over my lips as I poured out prayers of thanks to our Father. As my words turned to a request for goodness in the next part of this boys life the tears overtook the whispers and I couldn’t finish. I didn’t want to. I sobbed. My husband finished the prayer. Many hugs followed.
Roberto’s grandmother came up and shook my hand and patted my arm as she mumbled a humble acknowledgment. I followed the motions I had learned as politeness – the shake, the pat, the kiss, and the quiet words. I did it all, but I didn’t want to.
Our social worker came over to console me. She told me he would be fine. She told me the family is good. She told me this would be good for Roberto. I heard her. I didn’t want to. I agreed. I didn’t want to.
Before the emotional ending I had found a moment to talk with Roberto. I crouched down next to his seat as he munched on sweets.
“How are you? Tell me about your new house,” I said with an inviting smile.
Roberto has a calm spirit. He looked up and simply talked with me. “It’s a small place. A very small place. Just a couple rooms and a kitchen,” he said with the lisp of missing teeth.
“Are there many people there?”
“No, not many.”
“Are there animals there?” I knew he now lived on a farm. He had made the official move on Tuesday and had come back Friday for the going away party.
His eyes lit up as he quickly rambled off the list of livestock, “Kittens, pigs, hens… who lay eggs… chicks… but one of the chickens we killed.”
“To eat?” I follow up to his matter of fact information.
Another boy overheard the statement and asked in an appalled drawl, “You killed a chicken and ate it?”
Roberto smiled. The hubbub didn’t rattle him. He was at home, his second home.
Regardless of the fate of the deceased chicken, Roberto’s life looks very different now. He is with family who care for him and love him. That tie will hold him his whole life.
Even though it was hard I am glad that we were able to do this for Roberto. I want to make mention of the people who came to help send Roberto off knowing he is loved and will be missed:
The Dreamers, Roberto’s grandma, Marisol, Adela, Cristina, Liudmila, Benita, Irma, Olivia, other Tias, Limbert, Rhiannon, Anisha, other volunteers, Melinda, Romon, Jalynne, Jolee, Gabrielle, and DaRonn
If you have ever said a prayer for the Dreamers, you have prayed for Roberto – thank you. If you have ever sent along financial assistance to the House of Dreams, you have helped Roberto – thank you. If you have ever helped in a project, volunteered, or visited the home in the last seven years, then you influenced Roberto’s life – on his behalf, and with all the sincerity of my heart – thank you.
Previous post about Roberto’s court date: http://houseofdreamsorphanage.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/robertos-court-date/