Dear B

That’s not even your name, of course. There’s not a single letter “B” in your first, middle, or last name. But my mother- Aunty, you call her- picked you up downtown that July day and two days later, I was calling you B.

You were so quiet when you first arrived. Tiny braids wrapped around your three-year-old head, you mostly watched, those early days. Eating, drinking weren’t your favorite, then. You did sleep though, and sleep long. We smiled at night, in the shadows of the yellow hallway light, because you hugged your pillow when you slept- arms and legs wrapped, monkey-style around that flattened pillow, your pink nightgown ruffled under your tight grip.

I went to Guatemala shortly after you arrived, and you were asleep the night I returned. So were Glendy and Larissa, your playmates, buddies, companions. You all woke up before I did the next morning, and I heard your voice loud, strong, articulate, amongst theirs. I laid there in my top bunk for a little while that morning, listening to Aunty make pancakes in the kitchen, to Papa shuffle around his little office there between the dining room and the kitchen. But mostly, I listened to hear your voice. The voice you had found during my time away.

You left two weeks later, riding home in the pink flower carseat that Jaiden rides in, too. Aunty drove you back downtown, back to the arms of a mother, father, sisters, baby brother, who all love you dearly. But those weeks, between Guatemala and your going home, we had fun together; you and I and Glendy and Larissa.

You went to Vacation Bible School with the girls, although each of you in your own class. You fought the early morning hard on Monday, riding in your carseat barefoot, in your pajamas, Aunty helping you into a dress (Larissa’s? Glendy’s? You all shared, you know) in the church bathroom. Five days later, you jumped out of bed when you heard the girls moving, clambering in that little voice of your about your class at school.

One night, Aunty and Papa out, I got you ready for bed. You took a bath swirling gleefully in the lukewarm water, then stood patiently while I tried to comb out your tight curls (Aunty is better at that). I carried you to the kitchen, you making silly faces, giggling at yourself, all the while. I have a picture of you that night, hair a legitimate afro, energetically spooning vanilla yogurt into your mouth. Later, you told me that yogurt was just ugly milk, and I sent that quote, along with your silly yogurt face picture to Aunty. We both laughed. You made us laugh, brought us joy, Miss B.

One of your last nights with us was an outside day. I had you three again, relishing those sunlit summer evenings in that hometown that I’ve so come to adore. You colored with chalk outside, three girls together, yet playing apart, while I stood between you all and watched your creativity grow. We walked to the ice cream shop after that, I bought you ice cream cones with the money Aunty left. We sat in the park eating those cones, me alternately helping each of you clean the drips from the cold treat, licking around the softening cone. Ice cream gone, you played tag, rolled down the hill, until it was time to go home.

There are many things that marked this past summer, B. Many things that I look back on and cherish, hold onto. There are a lot of things that I want to remember, to write down, about the past four months. And in many of those memories, you are there, B. You weren’t with us long, but you made your mark with that dimple smile and your sweet voice, astounding me every day with your long sentences and beyond-preschool logic. You fit into our family, brought us joy, made us laugh, B. And now, where you are with your Mommy and Daddy, B, I hope you’re still smiling, still laughing, still talking. Still bringing people joy- You have that gift, kiddo.




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  1. Trackback: Safe Families for Children: A Life of Visits | Lead Me Where

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