If you told me this time last year that we would by now be having hour long bilingual Russian English conversations on Skype with a family in remote Belarus, I just might not have believed you. A tad random sounding, as the young folk say. But that's what we did last evening. We use Skype on a fairly regular basis to talk to John's siblings who live in Australia and England, but yesterday was the first time we skyped our friends in Belarus. It was lovely to see Dasha again, to hear her giggle and point "Dougie" every time our fluffy cat walked into the room. It was good too to talk to her grandmother, who has been her and her little brother's guardian for the past few years. A very young granny of fifty, she actually became a grandmother when she was just about my age (eeek!). They obviously get down to childbearing at a younger age over there. We also got to meet Dasha's six year old brother, who looks just like her, and just as energetic. He was doing handstands in the background while we were chatting with Tatiana and Dasha. We might in time invite him to stay with us, but I think we might wait until the girls are a little older, and have more English. Then we will all be better equipped to deal with the langauge barrier.
Saying goodbye to them in January was hard, no two ways about it. Harder than I ever thought it would be. Before they arrived, I imagined that I would be glad of the break to pack them off home and go back to work. But no, the house just echoed with deafening silences. John was hit full on with a huge sense of loss. Me, slightly less so, I think. Not because I missed them less, but I suppose because our past pregnancy losses affected me in a more tanglible way. I have become more immune to the grief of loss. More calloused. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. I still can't bear to clear out the Bratz doll clothes or the Hello Kitty hair bobbins strewn over the back seat of my car though. They are a comforting reminder of other days, and hopefully of days to come.
We have had a good bit of text and email contact with Lera and her mum. It's heartwarming seeing these Russian language emails popping up in my inbox. Google translate can be a bit hit and miss, but most of the time I get their drift. The girls speak about us a lot, and they loved their holidays with us. They are both doing well at school. They go to different schools, so have not met up since they arrived back home. I hope they will do soon. It must be strange as a seven year old to live for two weeks with another seven year old you have never met before, in the house of a couple of total strangers who don't even speak your language. And yet we still functioned as a family for that time.
It struck me how much of our communication was non verbal when Lera and her mom phoned us the night after she arrived back home. The conversation faltered because we could not speak each other's language. Then I heard a little whispering in the background and Lera's little voice piped up...."Zhon, Zhane....I luff you!". And that is all we needed to hear.
The Snakebite of Death
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