There is an empty chair behind me as I type this. I have stared at it for what seems like forever. And for several moments, I imagined that Ephrem and Antenek's mother was sitting in it. My pulse quickened because the very thought of this evoked such emotion inside of me that it was hard to keep the tears from coming. This woman, although deceased, is a huge part of our family.
Mother to mother, what would I tell/ask her?
First, I would look at their mother and ask about the first time she embraced Ephrem and Antenek. With goats bleating outside and rain pouring down in sheets, is it there, in a thatched hut, where they took their first gasps? Did her heart overflow with awe or was she too worried about how she and her husband would provide? As she examined them, did she immediately recognize in them the physical features that have spanned from generation to generation sealing her babes into their family fold? Did she gaze in wonder at their tiny hands, tightly grasped around her index finger, as they took nourishment from her breast? Or was she distracted and absent in heart and mind due to basic needs not being met? Was she thanking God for these blessings or was she crying out to Him for help? Did she even know God?
From what I can tell, my (her) boys were loved very much. They came with hearts and souls intact and I believe she protected her boys with everything that she had. It shows. It is evident with every hug they give, every rowdy laugh that wildly escapes and every tear that fights to eek out. Somewhere along the line, someone took the time to love them very much. It is obvious to me that God kept them securely tucked beneath his wings.
Starving for her answers, I would greedily take in every word. I would consume the joy she had in them like a choice dessert. I missed this part of my sons' lives. I missed their first steps, their first words and their transformation from babies to boys. I missed the part of their lives where they lost everything in a sudden flash. The side by side grave markers tell of the tragedy, grief and their uninvited status as "orphan". No one involved got to say their last good byes. I missed being able to protect them during this. Writing this makes me ache.
So, momma, I want you to know that your boys are safe and we love them so much. I wouldn't want you to worry. I promise to take good care them. Each hug I give them, I will remind myself it is a hug you would have wanted to give them too. You are a part of this story and I will never forget your role in it. I want them to feel free to love you and the memories of you. You are my hero and I am so sorry you had to lose so much in this whole deal. I am just so sorry.