Over the past few days, multiple kids from the hostel have assumed that I am taking baby D with me when I leave. Each time I explain that as much as I would like to, I am not allowed to, much to their surprise and concern. A few of the girls were pressing the issue, so I explained to them that the police would be very angry with me if I took her. “So what if the police say it’s okay?” the asked, no doubt thinking of going and talking to the policeman who lives on the mission. I explained that only if the king said it was okay, would I be able to take her. Sister pointed out at dinner last night that many of our kids are acutely aware of how it feels to be abandoned and probably don’t want to watch it happen to D.
Today I left Swaziland for good. In the morning I went over to the girls’ dorm to spend time with baby D and say goodbye again to the kids before the left for school. Saying goodbye isn’t fun, but that part was cheerful. They smiled as they waved goodbye to me and laughed and nodded when I told them I’d be back to see them in grade-something (a few years above what they are currently). But with D it was different. Partly because she’s non-verbal, so I had no way of explaining to her what was happening, but perhaps that was for the better. But saying goodbye to her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. With the other kids, I know I’ll make it back here before too long and catching up with them will be fun. But whenever I come back, D won’t remember me—at least not consciously—and so knowing that this was goodbye forever to what we have is difficult. She started screaming as someone took her so I could get into the car. Who knows if she was just generally upset that I wasn’t holding her anymore, as she sometimes gets, or if she knew something was going on.