She joined our family almost five years ago. And while, yesterday, we were worried about what gift to pick out at Target with the (ton of) money Grandma sent, when to make thank you phone calls to relatives far away, where we would go out to lunch to celebrate her special day, whether we would have a cake or a brownie upon which to place her “6” candle, and how many likes and comments she received on Facebook (much more than the boys ever do, by the way), I got the opportunity to reflect, amidst the festivities, about her family far away. By this I do not mean her family that lives on either side of the United States.
We brought her home from quite a distance. A 20-hour plane ride to be specific. We took her from her family and a culture that we will surely not be able to replicate in Pennsylvania. Certainly, we can take her to an Ethiopian restaurant around the D.C. area that I’ve heard boasts her name. We can even take her to an Ethiopian culture camp that is held every summer, in Virginia. But we will never be fluent in speaking Amharic – and neither will she (at least not without herculean effort). She will not eat tibs, wat, or injera with regularity. (We actually did not enjoy the cuisine of her homeland.)
We do, one day, possibly upon her high school or college graduation, hope to take her to visit – as a tourist – her country. However, the city we will visit is not where she was born, although it is exceptionally beautiful in Addis Ababa. We want her to see her country, even if only a small portion of it. We want her to be proud of where she comes from. Part of my ruminations were about whether or not we are doing a good enough job.
I was also thinking of her mother. Was she thinking specifically of her daughter yesterday? Was she happy imagining all of the opportunities she is experiencing in America: dancing, playing softball, attending school, reading about Marty McGuire’s adventures, and laughing at Junie B’s antics? Has she found peace regarding the selfless decision she made, in allowing her daughter to live a life of opportunity and choices for girls/women? I admire her, although I only know her name – nothing more. She is a much stronger mother than I think I could ever be. I hope that she feels peace in knowing that her daughter has her own room, clothes aplenty, a brand new batting helmet, cleats, and bat (purple), and has asked Jesus into her heart. I hope that she smiles as she thinks of her sweet and sassy girl: fighting with her brothers, giggling constantly at school, loving Chinese food!
Happy Birthday, sweet girl! We are the lucky ones to have had you join us for the past five years. We have been blessed to have been the ones to teach you to ride a bicycle and to have watched you loose your first tooth – really, we have no idea where it got to! Your first teacher, your first painted nails. You have certainly bettered our lives more than we could ever enrich yours. You are our family’s constant birthday gift. And we have Ethiopia to thank for that.