The third gift I brought Kaleab was a wooden cross necklace. I chose it because I didn't want anything too fancy. I didn't want it to be taken from him on the street. Months before we left for Ethiopia, I started wearing it. I wanted him to have something tangible that had hung close to my heart. When I took it off and put it on him, he smiled and said thank you. But he never took his fingers off of it.
After the pandemonium over the photo album, the care givers ran the other kids out so we could hear one another talk. Kaleab had changed positions and moved to sit right beside me. I noticed that he kept fidgeting with a bracelet on his wrist. I thought it had come untied. I took it hard when I offered my hand to help and he shook his head no. One of the workers said he wanted to take it off. He wanted to give it to me. As he tied it around my wrist, I turned my head so he didn't see me and I let two tears gather in my eyes until they were gargantuan. It was too much. He told me in translated Amharic that they had made the beaded salvation bracelets that day and had learned all about Jesus' love for us. And my son, gave it to me.
From the moment we arrived in Addis, I stared into every ten year old boy's face, searching for my Kaleab. I know it's stupid and extremely Hollywood, but I knew that I would see him while we were driving. Leaving the care center and entering our car, we were surrounded by street kids. In the dust and the halos of filth that covered these children and we were bombarded by a sea of hands and grubby faces asking for candy and money; I lost sight of my son.
As we pulled out of the care center, my son had crossed the very busy intersection with no lights, no crosswalk and no crossing guards. As our car drove away from him, I rolled down the window and screamed his name. He turned and waved at me. And smiled. Hollywood had nothing on Addis Ababa. My rock star lived here. And he was at least curious enough about me that we would see each other again in the next few days.
I sat back in the car and touched my beaded salvation bracelet. I told Le I needed a new trifecta in my life: none of it involved diamonds.