Long Goodbye

“Mica fini Veronique?”

This question put my usually running 90 KMH in fourteen directions brain on pause.

Let me explain:  Veronique is the head nanny at Rivers of Hope.  She is a great lady. I wouldn’t cross her; she can take care of business, and so she is the right person to take care of 16-20 children waiting to complete the adoption process.

Three months home, and now with expanding language skills, the questions come.  So how to answer.  The question isn’t sad for her rather curious.  For me I feel sad wishing she could stay connected to those who have nurtured her while being at home with us.  I also do not believe she is finished with Veronique.  I hope she will be able to visit with her when we return to Haiti someday.  I also believe that whether or not she sees her again on earth, the impact will last.

In her imagination she talks on the phone to Rachel Nanny, the wonderful director of Rivers of Hope.  When a Haitian friend introduced me to the proper way to make diri coles (Haitian rice and beans)Mica declares, “Natasha do that!”  (Another nanny)  While Craig plays classical music on the piano, Mica dances like a ballerina and says, “Rachel Nanny!”  Rachel likes classical music.

Regularly we pray for each nanny by name.  Mica’s prayer on the night of the question was, “Thank you God Rachel Nanny, Veronique, Natasha, Adele, and Manita.  Bless Nanny, bless Veronique; bless Adele; bless Natasha; bless Manita.”

So in the brain pause after THE QUESTION here is what raced in my mind in the 5 seconds before I answered:  I reaffirmed to myself that I want her to celebrate all the good that the Lord has provided in her life – people and experiences.  I want her to grieve well the losses sustained knowing that for a wee one they have been many.  And a random image of Joseph grieving Jacob’s death and getting 70 days of bereavement leave as well as other Egyptians officials with him (Genesis 50) came to mind as did my ethic’s professor, Dr. Tillman’s comments, “Let’s give one another permission to grieve – no matter how long it takes.  One week off doesn’t mean the grief stops at the end of that time.”

Not wanting to make the moment bigger than it is for her, I affirmed, “Mica has said good bye to Veronique, and you live with us now.”  Then we had to go through each caregiver by name to clarify if Mica goodbyed each of them.

In the way Mica puts her hands on her hips I see another adult.  When Mica tells me about Rachel Nanny’s coffee and pretend serves her another cup I revel in that precious relationship.  And when Mica points to the Haitian decorative lizard on her ceiling and asks, “Who that?”  I laugh aloud when she tentatively composes the sentence, “Veronique scared lizard!”  Don’t know if it’s true, but I like chatting about her precious caretakers.

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