Thursday, January 07, 2010

Sometimes I forget...

Sometimes I forget all this child has had to endure. Sometimes I forget how much has been taken from her. I forget about the scars inside her--her heart that is at least a little bit broken, and always will be. Most of the time I see a spunky, sassy, mischievous, loving, kissy toddler. But sometimes--like today--I see the sadness that will always lie deep inside.

It's bitterly cold here. Lowest temperatures in years. Kendi's face is starting to look like a dried up prune. The moisture is getting sucked out of it because of the dryness, and the cold winds are chapping her cheeks. I've been putting regular lotion on her face religiously but it's just not working. So today I got out the precious jar of shea butter I brought home from Ghana about a year ago.

I don't use our Ghana shea butter all the time. It's for skin emergencies. It has to last! I warmed it in the microwave for half a minute, and then opened the lid. The smell. That smell. The smell of pure shea butter is not what we Americans think of as "good." We weren't raised around this smell. It's not like the smell of bread in the oven that brings back a flood of childhood memories. Except that it is. For Kendi it is. Even for ME it is, and I've only spent a tiny portion of my life in Ghana. That smell is pure Ghana. I never realized before today that the smell is around me all the time when I'm there. I just couldn't pick it out against the stronger smells (smoke, fish, onions, flowers, exhaust, pineapple, mango....).

I proceed to apply the soft and warm shea butter to Kendi's face and lips. Every time I do this with lotion she squirms and complains. But with the shea, she sat and let me rub in the goodness for several minutes, eyes closed the whole time. It was a very quiet and calm few moments. Then, I gave her a bit in her hand. And just as she did in Ghana while at Eban House, she took that bit of shea and spread it on her own body. Face, elbows, knees, hands, and finally the hair. As she completed her ritual, with eyes open but not seeing, I knew she wasn't really with me. She was back home. She was in Ghana.

Possibly she thought, "Maybe if I just sit here with my eyes closed long enough, when I open my eyes I will be back home. Maybe it will be warm and wet, rather than cold and dry. Maybe I'll hear the soothing sounds of my tribal language, rather than the choppy language I hear in this place. Maybe there will be fufu rather than potatoes, and fish rather than beef. Maybe?"

Then my sweet baby had to open her eyes and see my face, and our kitchen, and be flooded with all of the smells and sights of her new home. How my heart BREAKS for her tonight.



Story of our Life 11:39 PM  

Wow Anita!! Strong stuff indeed!! Tears are definately flowing now!! It's been a very long day for me at work (was in an accident). Yet, that long bad day is nothing in comparrison to what your little gems have been through in their little life.

((((HUGS))) to both of you!!


Jen 12:09 AM  

Great post, so true.

The other day, Caleb announced he was not returning to school because he did not like it. I asked why and he responded "Because they never have fufu for lunch" While we kind of chuckled together about it as he was only half serious, it led to a good discussion about all the wonderful things in Ghana that we miss.

We are Grateful!!! 1:09 PM  


My kids love seeing Kendi's pics.
They yell her EH name and giggle. R says..."Mom, she is my favorite!!!"

Aggie 3:54 PM  

What an incredible blessing that she has a mom who understands all this and recognizes that she is completely surrounded by change. I am sure that many of the things in her new home are joys and blessings to her and as you have so compassionately recognized I am sure that there is so much that she misses about Ghana (smells, sounds, familiarity). Thank you for sharing!

Bettina 9:18 PM  

Beautifully written Anita, thank you for sharing this. My thoughts have been consumed by Ethiopia today and my daughter's Ethiopian family as she celebrates her 8th birthday.

Thank you for putting into words what is often so hard to explain.


Amy 9:34 PM  

Sweet beautiful girl... my heart breaks for her. No child should ever have to go through so much. Glad the Lord gave her such a wonderful mommy. Here's to hoping it warms up soon!

Amy 9:55 PM  

Beautiful post and such truth in it for all of our transplanted babies. There is a lot to miss. Love you!

FYI The Shea Butter hut has unrefined shea butter from Ghana on a pretty good deal (usually buy 2 pounds get 1 free). We have 3 kids that use the whipped shea butter recipe I have on my blog twice a day and I still have one pound left after ordering it WAAAAY back when. :) If she loves it that much and it does that much for her skin (our kids skin is doing GREAT in our very cold, dry winter air), maybe you could look at getting some for between Ghana trips? :)


Amy 9:57 PM  

I just looked and the UNREFINED shea butter from Ghana is still on special- 9.95 per pound. So around 20 bucks for 3 pounds. :)

Laurel 3:34 AM  

I think you should just have one of your families bring you a bag. I've brought bags over for other families, and I've had other families bring it for me.

My girls have used Shea Butter from Ghana twice a day, every day, and they've been home almost 2 years now. It is so good for their skin.

We don't melt it or whip it. My girls just put a chunk in their hand, let it melt onto their hand, and rub it all over their little bodies.

Last May I bought 5 of the black bags full for $15 U.S. They took up a lot of my carry-on space on the way home (too heavy for the checked luggage, but I was glad I could bring some for a couple of families, in addition to my own kids.

mama of many

:) :) :0