Saturday, September 12, 2009

The thousand-yard stare

David's Dad served as a medic in Vietnam, and he has often described what is known in military circles as the "thousand-yard stare" -- the far-away, unfocused gaze of a soldier who has seen too many atrocities. In Dad's case, it's usually being exhibited by other members of his platoon at one of their reunions, as they talk about the battles they saw and the friends that they lost.

Well, Yikealo has it too every now and then -- that slightly haunted, distant gaze that looks right through us and tells us that he's gone off to another place in his head. I doubt whether he has ever been exposed to a war-zone, although there's no way to know for sure what kinds of horrors he may have seen prior to March. At the very least, I'm sure that there were many times when he went without food. The stare usually happens once or twice a week, and it is almost always followed by him mentioning someone from Ethiopia. This week, David started the whole thing by telling him that Tomas was coming to America. Tomas is a very sweet nine-year old boy that we met at Hannah's Hope, and he was thrilled to meet us, as his new family also lives in Ohio. We've been following his family's blog, and his new Dad and one of his new brothers have been in Ethiopia this week to bring him home. Of course, we've been very excited about it, and David was attempting to explain the situation to Yikealo on Tuesday evening. Since I'm fairly certain that he has absolutely no concept of what "America" or "Ohio" really means, the explanation went far over his head, and all he got out of it was that Tomas was coming to Yikealo's house, and that maybe Yikealo was going to fly on an airplane to see Tomas., actually, to both scenarios. Nice going, Dear.

On Wednesday, at supper, he asked if Mihiret was coming to Yikealo's house. No to that too, bud. Sorry. He seemed okay with that, but was definitely over-reacting to almost everything that evening. He was very hyper, and would start melting down almost immediately if we tried to settle him down at all. While I was attempting to put his pajamas on at bedtime, he was bouncing wildly all over the bed, and when I told him somewhat sternly to sit still for a minute, he started crying again. I picked him up and held him, rocking him back and forth for a bit, and that's when I noticed the stare again. He was looking somewhere far, far away with a very sad look on his face, so I asked him about it: "Sweetie, what's wrong? Are you feeling sad?" It took him a few seconds to come back from wherever he was, but then he nodded and whispered, "Ow." (Yes) I asked if he missed Mihiret, and he said, "Ow" again, and then asked for her photos. We dug them out of the box of mega-blocks for the first time in over a month, and when he saw the album, he grinned and said, "Yikealo do it!" while pointing to the container of blocks. He started looking through the album and kissing her picture, and then he pointed to her hands: "Mom, hands ouchie" and proceeded to fold his hand under in the same position that Mihiret has her hands in most of the photos. We have never mentioned her hands to him, and I did not print out for his album those pictures that show the worst of the disease. It's obvious that he remembers her hands though, and I'm so glad. It tells me that he does remember HER, and it should make her relinquishment of him a bit easier to explain to him as he gets old enough to understand.

David asked him if he'd like to pray for Mihiret and her ouchie hands, and he said yes, so we spent a few minutes asking the Lord to be with her, to provide comfort and healing to her, and to help her get enought to eat. After we finished, Yikealo asked to see his album -- the one of our house -- and he kissed our pictures too. It was time for bed at that point, so he put the two albums away, ours on top of his dresser, and Mihiret's buried under all of the pillows on his floor.

The next morning, when I made his bed, I asked where he'd like to keep her photos. I didn't really want them back in the box of blocks, since he refuses to play with them while her album is in there. We agreed to keep it in one of his dresser drawers, inside the painted box where I store extra buttons. He's been completely fine ever since, but I wonder how long it will be until he wants to see it again....

1 comment:

  1. So sweet, and innocent. What an amazing, heartbreaking, truly awesome story that has been written for all of your lives. Our son who was 3 when he came to us in foster care had a lot of "fits" where he was really in another place altogether. When he came out of them- we just cuddled and talked for a long time. The hurt that has to be healed over and over is sometimes hard, but I know I am not the healer. GOD must be, because I fail soo much.