I'm ready to leave. I sit on the floor struggling with the buckle on my sandal. I say my good byes to the children. I love you Lion.
He clearly is waiting for a response but I have no idea what he is saying. I love you too buddy.
"No! Damoo momma."
He is frustrated I cannot understand what he believes he has so clearly stated. He tries so hard, but still, after a year, I cannot make out most words.
Boys talk later than girls. He's still so young. It will come. I know that. I have been assured by a therapist that there is no delay. I know it will come but there are times it is not fast enough for either of us.
"Damoo momma!!" his frustration growing.
English is his third language. I imagine at times he is speaking Kembatinga or Amharic, languages that live in his memory, in his soul.
The first words he heard were uttered softly in Kembatinga. I love you, my son, a voice so familiar he thinks it could be his own. He heard children singing and telling stories as children often do. Stories of his people, the Kembata, were music to his ears.
He heard a quiet man choked with grief say I am sorry, she is gone. The man struggled to explain the unexplainable. I love you. I will miss you. Remember that.
He heard women's voices trying to soothe his fears and quiet his cries. It will be all right. Voices trying to explain the unexplainable. I am sorry. He is gone but he will always be with you. These voices gave good news too. You have a family. They are coming for you. You are loved. He heard children's voices singing and telling stories as children often do. He heard stories of hope.
Another city, another language. This time women's voices spoke in an unfamiliar tounge, Amharic. Welcome. We will care for you. It will be alright. A special voice sang to him. It was her voice he sought out when he was scared. Ishi ishi. It will be alright. Your family is coming. You are loved. He heard children singing and telling stories as children often do. He heard stories of family.
Strangers came. They spoke a strange, unfamiliar language. Words of comfort offered none. They spoke of love, of home, of family. It will be alright. We are together now. He came home, to his new home, filled with these unfamiliar voices and unfamiliar language. He heard children singing and telling stories as children often do. He heard stories of home.
Slowly these voices grew familiar. He understood. He knew about hope, about family, about home. He yearned to add his voice to the chorus.
I struggled. I turned to my husband for help. He is saying he loves you to the moon. Oh, of course, how could I not know that.
To the moon buddy?
He curled into me, finger in mouth, hand stroking my ear. "Damoo momma".
I love you to the moon buddy.
And back home.
Knowing he had been heard, he untangled himself and ran to the living room. There he joined his sister, singing and telling stories as children often do. They told stories of love.