Day Twenty-five

October 27, 2008 at 3:50 am Leave a comment

So I have missed two days out of the 31 for 21 challenge.  It makes me sad but what are you going to do with stomach flu?  And I just figured out that if I post at night it’s already the next day at WordPress.  Oh well.  Now I’ve confessed and I am moving forward.

I wanted to go back to the way things were.

In the apartment a picture of my oldest daughter sat on our coffee table, a gray cold stare, no smile, no semblance of America.  She was beautiful yet so different then how I was at that time in my life.  She was Ukrainian.  Old yellow photos of my childhood, year after year of a girl with brown hair and a wide, mischievous grin were stuffed away in my parent’s hutch.  I was American. 

I sat through a ‘welcome to school’ meeting for Elaina’s preschool in Ukrainian grasping at words that sounded like Russian, trying to act like I was taking notes like all the other dutiful, sullen mothers in the auditorium.  Zoya no longer complained about adorning tights and pants and a thick black snow suit just to step out the door for half of the year.  The girls were growing and thriving by eating fish and beets, salads and potatoes. I finally found a few clothing stores I liked for me and the kids.  I actually enjoyed going to my Russian class.

Almost every week someone new showed up at our house church on the second floor of an apartment complex in the Pechersk region of Kiev. I loved Sundays, people stuffed into our living room, the enclosed balcony opened up for one or two more to fit in.  There was singing and laughing and food and growth as I sat in the corner of our living room and tried to follow Sergei’s quick mouthed Russian sermons.   Mounds of open faced sandwiches were tirelessly prepared after church; mayonnaise and sausage, butter and fish on slices of thick bread with a twig of fresh parsley on top.  Toddlers who didn’t make it to the bathroom in time fumbled around the apartment in my kids’ pants. 

Often a child ‘borrowed’ a toy from my girls.  Sometimes it got back to us and sometimes it didn’t.  But we didn’t mind.  Now in the States, my girls try to ‘borrow’ toys once in a while from someone else.  They say, nonchalantly “I’m gonna borrow this toy.  We’ll bring it back next week” and our host family looks at me like I am purposefully trying to raise thieves. 
 
I wanted to go home but couldn’t quite make out what home I was thinking of.  I wanted to be in Pechersk with our kids, I wanted to be at church.  I wanted to be back home in Watervliet where people asked me about my life according to my mother’s newspaper column at the local grocery store.  I wanted to pack a few bags and board a large airplane and fly all day and all night to a place where I did not have this new curve in the road of my life.
I settled for leaving a few times in the next week, an hour or two tops, after we knew for sure that Polina had Down syndrome.  One day Sergei took me to a food court at a mall.  There I sat despondent and jealous that everyone else’s lives didn’t seem to be in crisis.
It was April in Kiev.  The days were on the verge of warming up.  Less rain.  More sunshine.  Birds were probably somewhere tuning, waiting for their cue to sing.
 
There was a tree outside my hospital window on the other side of the lawn near the street.  It was tall and as of yet, lifeless.  The branches on the bottom of the tree were wide and sturdy.  As my eyes moved upward I saw the twigs grow narrow and brittle.  At the very top of the barren tree sat a blackbird.  He was there every day, all day long.  He could fly, I saw him come and land sometimes first thing in the morning right before I got out of bed to go clean up to see Polina. 
I wondered what he could see from there that kept him from taking flight? 
It must have had something to do with perspective. 
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Entry filed under: Down syndrome, Family, Kiev, Ukraine.

Day Twenty-four Day Twenty-six

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