Saturday is Family Day. Relatives come to visit the children and spend a little time getting to know them and establishing bonds.
Some relatives are diligent to come, some come every once in a while, and some come only rarely. Some don't come at all. You might remember me writing about how Queenie's dad used to come every Saturday. Then he just stopped coming. We assumed he had passed away--he was quite frail--but the truth was he had gotten a job in the capital city. A few months later he began to call every Saturday or Sunday evening to chat with Queenie. We appreciated the efforts he was making. Then he got remarried. He promised to come for a visit with his new wife to introduce her to Queenie, but that was the last time we heard from him. It's been a couple years with no word.
Peter and Beauty are siblings (the only other sibling set is Luke and Leah), and their father has been pretty good in recent months about coming to visit. Even though he didn't come this week, or perhaps because he didn't, he was apparently on Beauty's mind.
Saturday evening, as I put the finishing touches on our dinner and the kids washed up the dishes from their supper, one of the nannies approached me to tell me that Beauty had some questions.
She asked her nanny why her mom never comes to visit. Worried about the right way to answer, the nanny had come to me. I assured her she did the right thing and then shared with her what I was going to say so she could repeat it later should Beauty need extra reassurance. We need to all speak the same thing. I'll be teaching on this during our staff meeting tomorrow as well.
A few minutes later, Beauty came into the kitchen. She had a single tear rolling down her cheek. My heart broke in two seeing that solitary tear. I asked her why she was sad and she said, "My mom never comes to see me". I gathered her into my arms and asked her if she knew why. Then I explained carefully that her mother had been sick and died and went to Heaven (I'm not worried about the theology of that statement right now....) and her father wasn't able to care for her and Peter and feed them, so he found someplace where they would be well cared for and have a bed, and enough to eat.
I assured her that we, Tom and I (mommy & daddy), were her family and that the other kids are her brothers and sisters and that she isn't alone. I also told her it was OK to be sad and that she could come talk about it any time she felt bad again.
She hung out with me for a little bit in the kitchen just chatting. I asked her if she was sad about anything else and she said she was sad that Jasmine had left, and Zeger had left, and she mentioned a few others. Leaving is a constant theme in the lives of these kids, sad to say. I told her how much I missed those people too, and we talked about how some of them are coming back one day. Then I asked her if she knew who would never leave her. She answered, "Yes. Jesus." A few more minutes of chatting and she headed off to bed, seeming to be in better spirits.
I'm not entirely sure I got it all right. I'm not sure there is a perfect way to tell a child that their mother is not around for them anymore. I am sure that the best thing we can do for the kids is be there and hold their hands and hearts as they mourn their losses, and set them back on their feet pointing toward the future.
Please hold us in your prayers as we work to meet the needs of all our precious children.