Now, onto the last day. We went back to the clinic early after lunch, so that week could have a birthday party for Alexandra, whose 7th birthday was Sunday the 16th. The party was attended by the clinic staff, the volunteers, Mihaela, Delia, Sami, Daniela, Ema-Elena, and Lea-Celine. Dr. Delia also made a brief appearance, to thank us for our help.
For her special day, Alexandra was dressed in a pretty yellow dress, pink socks, and black shoes. She was even wearing Pampers instead of a cloth diaper—-what a treat!
When we sang Happy Birthday to Alex, she actually reached her hand out towards the cake…and stuck her finger in the candle flame. Susan immediately grabbed her hand back, but the flame didn’t even phase Alex. After the song, Susan and an aide tried to get Alex to take a bite of cake, but she didn’t care for it.
After the party, we went to see if any of the other kids had woken up, and we took them into the playrooms to wait for bottle time. Most of the kids were cranky; since we had come back early, they hadn’t really had enough time to get into a deep sleep, so their schedules were thrown off. Ema-Elena, in particular, was quite unhappy, and she only calmed down when I carried her and walked with her up and down the hallway.
Trevor and Delta went back to the hotel a little early, since they still needed to pack and intended to go back to the clinic after dinner for goodbyes. Since I was already halfway finished with my packing, I stayed to help with 6:00 bottles, and when we came back for dinner, we were joined by Mihaela. Our dinner conversation consisted of final recollections of our experience in Romania and our feelings about it. Afterwards, we said our goodbyes to Mihaela, and I returned with Trevor and Delta to the clinic.
When we arrived, I heard a few kids crying, but one was louder than the others. I followed the sound to the nonmobile playroom and found Gabriela all alone, screaming in her bouncy seat. I immediately picked her up and cuddled with her for a while, walking around the room and up and down the hallway. Then I put her in the jumperoo, and she was quite content, especially when Trevor came in to hang out with her.
I knew that I couldn’t take all of the kids out for individual goodbyes without causing a ruckus, so I went into the big kids’ bedroom and snatched up Big Andreea. Her cribsheet was soaked with sweat, as was her shirt, so I changed her shirt and her sheet, then went into the nonmobile playroom and sat with her on the floor. I didn’t start crying until I started cuddling her for the last time, and then I really let loose.
It felt like it was too soon when I put Andreea back in her crib. I gave her a bunch of kisses before pulling the side of the crib up, and then I proceeded to say my goodbyes to the rest of the kids. Thankfully, the big kids didn’t put up much of a fuss-—even Maiastra didn’t whine or reach for me to pick her up when I gave her a kiss.
I went to all the other rooms to give the kids kisses—some of them were asleep, so I made sure not to wake them. Ionela was the only one who really got upset when I didn’t pick her up, but she calmed down shortly after I left the room.
I’m not sure if I realized how hard it would be to say goodbye. I think I knew rationally, but that still didn’t prepare me for it. I’m glad Delta was there, willing to play “surrogate mom” and let me cry on her even while she had a rough time saying goodbye to Daniela.
It started raining right before we left the clinic, of course, and it got progressively worse as we continued on our way to the hotel. We were pretty soaked by the time we got in.
As hard as it was to leave, I was able to content myself with the thought that the next group of volunteers will love these kids as much as we have, as well as the hope that I’ll be able to return next year.
I adore this picture.
Lea-Celine, pulling herself up at the fence. If she didn't have those braces on her feet, she'd be up and running around with the others.
Ion...I don't know why, I just love this look on his face.
Big Andreea & Nicoletta
She's so photogenic.
Ana-Maria & her aide, Coca
Ema-Elena, taking a morning nap
Big Andreea, lifting her head!
Alexandra, sitting on her "throne."
Delia & Sami
Me & Maiastra
Trevor & Maiastra
Gabriela, SO CLOSE to getting herself into a sitting position. I think she realized it, though, and she gave up.
Lea-Celine & me
Sami, in another of his awesome poses
Alexandra, throwing her birthday hat away
Big Andreea in the jumperoo
Happy Birthday, Alexandra! Watch very closely at the beginning, you'll see her poking the candle.
Watch Ion try to pick up his keys with his toes.
This might be the end of this blog. Or I might return to post any other little thoughts I have relating to my trip. We’ll see.