I had braced myself for pretty much anything. After 19 hours of travel time, I wasn't sure if she would be exhausted, wired, sick . . . I just wasn't sure. Robert and I stood in the airport with Kim and Joey and waited. Ulyses was there with video camera in hand (thank you, U). The plane arrived a few minutes early and we watched as passenger after passenger came through the gates.
And then there she was.
Arms wrapped around herself, backpack in tow she stood with Alex and her guardian Boris. As Boris reunited with his family who lives here in Orlando, we stood back and waited. I desperately wanted to call out her name, catch her eye. But I waited. When she saw me, she rushed forward unhesitatingly and hugged me as if we'd only been apart a day. She looked into my face and said "I love you!". I stepped to the side to introduce her to Robert. As soon as his name passed my lips she hurried to hug him and repeat the same greeting, "I love you!" Robert was taken aback by the instant attachment.
On the way to the car, we ask if she is hungry. She says she is not but she asks to go to our house. I try to indicate that we will go there eventually. We haven't eaten dinner and I try to explain that we will stop and get something. But the best translation I can come up with is, "We need to feed Robert." When we get to the car she "oohs" over the size of the vehicle and climbs into the back seat. As we travel down 436 she counts the McDonalds that we pass. Two! Three! There is one McDonalds that I saw in Odessa and she is shocked as we pass more and more. Robert puts down the automatic window next to her and she gasps and then giggles when she realizes he has done it. He shows her the sun roof and she is out of her seatbelt and standing up in the opening before I can say "nyet!"
She settles back into her seat as we pull into Sonic for a quick bite. I ask again if she is hungry and Robert indicates that she can have anything on the menu. She asks for an ice cream and we decide to indulge her for the evening. Robert orders a hamburger, fries, and onion rings. I watch as the two of them split the meal. I had forgotten how usual it is for the children to say they are not hungry when they really are. She asks to take the leftover french fries home and finishes them in the car. She asks again if we can go to the house.
She notices everything: the writing on the tires, a convertible car, all the restaurants and stores. Its a new world for her. On the way home from dinner I go through her backpack to see what she has brought: one pair of underwear, one dress, one pair of shorts, two shirts, and one pair of socks. Most are worn and look too small for her. Robert says we will stop by Target and get her something to wear for tomorrow. I had held back from buying her clothes before she came. The only purchase I made before she came was a nightgown for her to sleep in the first night. At Target she picks out a pink shirt and shorts, her favorite color. She asks again to go to the house as we check out.
Finally we get to the house and the cats are in the driveway to greet us. She hops out of the car, scoops Jack up, and nuzzles him as long as he will allow. She "oohs" as we walk into the house. I imagine our humble home is quite extravagant in her little eyes. We walk her from room to room and show her where things are. She returns to Hannah's room where she will be staying and asks something in Russian. A few attempts later she shrugs her shoulders and says, "Hannah?" She had wanted to go to the house because she wanted to meet Hannah! We explain as best we can that Hannah is gone and will be back in a few days. For those of you who don't know, the kids are all away at camp until next week. She is a little disappointed, but is quickly distracted when Robert shows her the cat treats and her feet are swarmed by hungry kittens. He shows her the water and ice dispenser in the door of the refrigerator and her eyes grow big. Robert is having such a good time showing her our modern conveniences! He gets such joy out of watching her eyes grow big and the inevitable giggle that follows.
We watched as she explored Hannah's room looking at the things in the desk. She open the closet doors and sees the mess that Hannah has left as she prepared for camp. Robert and I watch puzzled as she starts taking things out. We can't figure out what she is looking for. And then it hits us. She is cleaning the closet out! Robert stops her and tells her there will be no working for her this summer. She settles onto the bed and asks, pointing to the nightgown, "Hannah?" When we indicate that it is hers she holds it up and says "thank you, thank you!" She wants to take a bath so that she can change into the gown. I draw her a big bubble bath and get the same awed look that she has sported most of the evening. After her bath she climbs in the chair with me and I brush out her wet hair. I am struck by how natural and easy the entire process has seemed so far. Weariness gets the best of her and we find her snuggled into Hannah's queen size bed. She hugs and kisses me goodnight as Robert finds a nightlight for her. He decides she needs a flashlight "just in case", but she is fast asleep by the time he returns. And so now I go to that same place. I know tomorrow will be a full day and I will need my rest. Continue to pray for us! I will update you and post pictures tomorrow.
Life here thru photos in January
2 years ago