I was completely unprepared. I was thinking thoughts like, "Am I holding the bottle at the right angle?" and "He's so close to my body. I wonder if he notices my smell? Of course he notices my smell. Can I figure out a way to smell more familiar to him? Hmmph, I don't see anything nearby that could change my smell"...these were my thoughts. Yes, they were in regard to Jude, but totally and completely self-centered thoughts. The first hours I spent with him I was in a constant swirl of thought, unable to slow my brain to reason, yet at the same time, feeling such warmth and love, as the nurturing, nesting mama mode kicked in. I knew I felt pain for him. My greatest joy, becoming his mom, was the result of so much pain. So much loss on his part.
But, there was one moment, one moment when I understood a glimpse. I never wrote about this, because it was too much. Too powerful of an experience for words. Too raw. Now, almost a year later I feel like I can begin to touch it and hopefully, next summer, I can hope to try to make a small touch of it right. Although just a faint touch.
I'm glad I had witnesses. Without them, I fear I would have transformed it into a dream.
The upstairs of the Thomas Center, the care center where Jude lived for 5+ months, is where we spent a good part of our days. Learning how to take care of our precious little babes. Tommy had gone to the Embassy to turn in visa paperwork. Our travel companions were the types of people you instantly feel comfortable with. Our conversation was friendly, relaxed and real. In retrospect we were all probably doing the same dance of swirling and trying to nurture.
I was with Tesfahun when she walked in. I remember her face vividly. She was older. It's difficult for me to even guess her age. Her face was respectfully wrinkled. Especially around the eyes. Her eyes were very dark and made of water. She had one woman on each side of her. The three of them walked in purposely.
I didn't know to whom or where she was headed. I was a little taken aback when she approached me. As talkative as I am, I can initially be quite shy.
She spoke to me in English. I know that she had carefully chosen her words. She reached out to him and said, "Tesfesh"... He lit up when he saw her. His little body relaxed. Comfort. Peace. Most definitely love.
She looked at me, directly in the eyes. Holding my gaze with such intensity, I knew I couldn't glance away for a moment. It was a moment she had planned. It was her moment.
She stated calmly with much intent,
"I love him.
He is special.
He is a special baby.
He is happy."
Then the tears started as she repeated,
"I. Love. Him. I. Love. Him."
When she said his name, "Tesfesh" you could feel the love. You know when someone truly loves another, you can hear it in their voice. Especially when they say the person's name. Her "Tesfesh" was one of the most beautifully spoken words I had ever heard.
All I could whimper was "Thank you. Thank you for loving him."
She said each word earnestly. Each phrase was repeated for emphasis.
She handed me back our baby. She had brought support for this. Her support grabbed each of her arms as she broke and helped her to physically leave. The love she had for him is imprinted on his soul and will never leave. It will be passed down to his children. I heard her weeping. I felt her weeping. When I regained my ability to focus my eyes, I saw a roomful of tears. It was too much. It's still too much. I wish I could share with words her love. But, mothers know it.
She was not his by birth, but she is indisputably one of Tesfahun's mothers. He was her hope. As he is mine.