Sometimes, usually at the most random times, I find myself indulging in the memories of Kyrgyzstan. Tonight it came as I was getting a scoop of ice cream. I stood, poised at the refrigerator door, reminiscing about trips to the Beta Store and wandering the aisles, trying to make sense of what we were trying to buy and longingly staring at the ice cream, doing the currency exchange and realizing that a small carton was about $10 and that even if we did splurge on it, that it would melt before we got it back to our hotel. I remember just wanting something-- anything--cold. There was no ice, little air and really pricey ice cream; it was June; and I was walking pretty much everywhere I needed to go, and it was hot.
I remember the building the workers were building that we had to walk past on our way to the store. I was fascinated to watch how hard they worked, seeing slight progress each day and a lot of progress when we returned on the second trip.
I think about the statue of Manas that sat outside a building we passed on the way to the Italian restaurant. Interestingly enough, the entire time we were there, trips one and two, I never really thought about Ellie's given name being Aimana and having the name Manas associated with it. For those who don't know Manas is an epic poem in Kyrgyzstan, some 500,000 lines long. It is the centerpiece of Kyrgyz literature and is often recited at Kyrgyz festivals. I wonder who named Ellie "Aimana" and why.
I am reminded of a tiny stairwell in the Burana tower where I literally crawled up steps praying not to touch a spider and then was transported by the visual bounty that awaited me from the top. The mountains, the valleys, the beauty -- all leaving it's mark forever on my heart.
I will never forget the images of the faces I passed every day on my trip from Bishkek to Tokmok. Ironically, the parts of those faces that I remember best are the sum total of the beautiful face I see each morning who awakens with a, "MOMMY!" or "DADDY" followed by a "Good Mornin' mama; I go downstairs" as she gathers her blankies (all of them too).
I remember my first ride over to Tokmok when I couldn't be sure if I was more excited about meeting my baby girl or in awe of the Tien Shen mountains. No words can ever describe the majesty of those mountains and that country's beauty.
It's a luxury to sit with my eyes closed and let the images fly before me again: one I too often don't have the time for. I'm glad the memories are still there, so that one day, I can try my very best to share them with Ellie.
I spend a lot of time these days staring into that sweet, innocent face, so fully of love and she pats my arms, rubs my face as she goes to sleep or says, "Sit with me mama" and cuddles right into me. I wonder, a lot, how to broach the subject, when the time comes, of her "other mama". I know this woman must have been kind, caring and compassionate. There is no way that this sweet, caring child of mine can be so full of love lest she garnered that from her birth mom. I suspect she might have just garnered her headstrong, 'can't stop me' determination from her as well. They are both things I love so much about her -- both hers. But, it is a bridge we will come to, grasp on to God's love and pray for the right words for her to hear to help her somehow understand how two women could love her so much, and we will cross over it and all be stronger for it -- I hope.
Today Ellie got a book in the mail about a horse. I opened it for her and said, "When you lived in Kyrgyzstan, those folks loved horses. I'm sure you will love this book about horses." I am hopeful that small moments like this will lead us into the conversation one day about why she lived in Kyrgyzstan and what it was like there and how she came to live here with us and to be our daughter.
I want to remember to tell her about the coffee stands on the sides of the roads. I want to tell her about the poor, disabled people begging for money on the steps as you walked through town. I want to remember to tell her about the beauty in the faces of the women there. I want to tell her how they all somehow wore high heels to walk up and down those crazy, crooked sidewalks. I want to tell her about the preemie clothes we found in a store along Chuy so that she would have clothes that were hers and that fit. I wish they would have let me have one outfit back. But I know they needed the more than we did. I want to tell her about Aliya buying ice cream for Josh one hot day while we were visiting her. I need her to know that we all fell in love with her the minute we laid eyes on her -- not true -- we fell in love with her years before we met her; our eyes just got confirmation of what our hearts had always known. I want her to know who she was, who she is and that she can be anything she can dream.
I want her to be happy she lives here because, well, we have really, really good ice cream in America ... and, as an added bonus, she has a family who really, really loves her too.