I could not take my eyes off of my daughter. I was laying my eyes on the child I had brought into this world when I was a little girl of nine. The child I had for years feared was dead. Feresheteh was alive though, and I had an aunt and uncle who cared about me, who had wanted to protect me but could not due to situation beyond their control. I understood that now though, though when I was a little girl I wondered why they could not come and rescue me. I had not known they had my little girl though, not until Dad and Hope began searching and found that out.
“Star I wish you had known your Mother before. Before your Father got to her. She was a different person before she met your Father. He changed her. He killed the person she was before. When we were children she loved life, she loved people. She fell for your Father’s lies though. He was nothing but a Jihadist monster, and he took my sister from me.” Aunt Delbar said, trying hard not to cry in front of Feresheteh. I knew she did all she could to protect her from the pain I had felt as a child.
Hope lead my daughter out of the room, and showed her where the dolls and toys from our childhood was. I had used the toys for a very short time, the only thing I ever really clung to was a doll that had reminded me of my daughter. Now my daughter was in the next room, and my aunt and uncle were here.
“I try not to talk about the past to much around Feresheteh. She knows some things but some things are just too painful. A little girl should not hear such things. Yet you lived through them. I am sorry Star. In some ways I feel we failed you.”
“Please do not feel that way.”
“Star it is difficult not to, but I see you turned out well. I am glad you found the family you did.”
“I am too.” I said looking at Uncle Azar who did not seem to say much.
“I am sorry for all you have endured Star.” Uncle Azar said, finding his tongue.
“You did not do it to me.”
“I know, but I cannot help but feel I failed you.”
“Please do not feel that way. I do not want to start our reunion off on guilt.”
“You are right Star. I am sorry.”
“It’s okay, but I would like to hear more about what my birth Mother was like before my birth Father brain washed her with his lies.”
I had never seen my Mother get physically abused the way I had, but I knew he had mentally abused her. He had brain washed her, and had her believing all kinds of lies. Looking back now I realize too that she had been terrified of him, though she never admitted it. She always claimed to others he was a good man who was misunderstood. Words that were rehearsed, words I was sure she was made to say.
Seeing my aunt, my uncle, my little girl was a blessing, but the memories were sneaking up on me as well. Painful memories. Memories I had suppressed for so long and now they were coming back to me like an onslaught.
“I am sorry Star, for everything that happened. Everything that Azira allowed to happen. I never imagined my sister would allow such things to happen, but like I said she was brainwashed by his lies.”
“I know that Aunt Delbar, and I am glad you told me. Thank you for coming to America, for bring Feresheteh to come.”
“Thank you for having us. The unrest in Afghanistan is great, every day more and more Christians disappear. Their crime following Christ instead of going by the Islam ways. I needed to bring Feresheteh where it was safe. If it were just your Uncle and I, we might be willing to risk it, but not with Feresheteh.”
“How were you able to leave? I heard that leaving now was harder than ever.”
“Thankfully your uncle and I have friends in high places. If they found out we were being helped though, this man could be in great danger. He risked his own life making sure we were safe.”
“I am glad that he did.”
“As am I Star. I just pray, that it is not found out.”
“I will pray as well.”
I let Aunt Delbar and Uncle Azar settle themselves in. As I went into my childhood room and watched Feresheteh play. I was grateful that she had the freedom to play unlike I had as a child. Even on the few rare moments in childhood when I wasn’t acting as a slave or being raped by my Father or his friends I was too terrified to play. Truthfully I did not know what playing or having fun was like until I was adopted. The Kendal family had become my salvation and I was more than thankful for that.
“She’s beautiful isn’t she.” I said to Hope. It wasn’t a question but a statement.
“Yes she is Star. I think she looks like you.”
“I have missed out on so much of her life. She’s nine now I missed her first steps all of that.”
“I know that’s hard Star, but she’s here now, and that’s something to thank God for.”
“I know it is Hope.”
My sister was right I had to thank the Lord that I had Feresheteh now, so many things could have turned out differently. I could have spent my life wondering about my daughter but here she was playing in the next room.
Lord you are so good. I do not know what I did to deserve this, but thank you for brining Feresheteh to me, for giving me a second chance. Thank you for letting me get to know my daughter. I know I could not do this without you. Thank you Lord that she was raised in a Christian home too, with people who cared about her she deserved that. I am not taking her away from this family, but I am glad they came here. Lord I know your hand was in all of this or the things would not have come along like they did.
“Star this is just amazing. God has given you a second chance.”
“Star he has been blessing me for a long time, starting when I became a Baxter.”
“You’ve grown a lot since then.”
“Truthfully Sis we all have.”
“Yes. That we have.”
The past few years had given me a lot of time to grow up. I was no longer a terrified little girl, who was afraid that someone was out to hurt her. I was a young woman, a young woman who had a daughter. A daughter in the next room. The good Lord had gotten me this far and I knew if I continued to follow him he would continue to bless me. The fact that Feresheteh, that Aunt Delbar, and Uncle Azar were here was proof of that. I was getting to know my Mother before all of this, and for the first time in about seven years I could at least grieve for my Mother, knowing now she was not some kind of monster, just misguided by one.
“Star I am glad things have turned out this way for you.” Mom told me. She had come home from grocery shopping allowing me to have a little time with my daughter. Aunt Delbar and Uncle Azar had gone with her, only Hope had stayed behind because I had asked them too. I was blessed to have even a few minutes with my daughter, and I was thankful it didn’t seem that she hated me. Actually it kind of seemed like she was indifferent to me. I believed she would get over it, but this was a lot for a nine year old little girl to take in, and I knew it was going to take time. Feresheteh and I were going to have to get to know each other. The truth was I was a stranger to her, although I had given birth to her. I was not her Mother, not like Aunt Delbar was, but that did not mean I did not love her. I loved Feresheteh with my whole heart, and I did not want to see her hurt.
“Thanks Mom. Feresheteh’s still trying to understand what’s going on I think, but I believe she will come around.”
“Give her time Star.”
“I am Mom.”
“I know you are sweetie and your Dad and I are both proud of you.”
“Thank you. I owe it to you guys.”
“No you owe it to the Lord.”
“Yeah, you know what I mean Mom.”
“I know Star.”
I wonder what life was like for Feresheteh in Afghanistan. I wonder if she had friends. I know Aunt Delbar and Uncle Azar had to be careful because they were Christians. I hope that she had friends though. I know that a childhood without friends is lonely.
I remember well what that felt like. Having no friends, but Lord I thank you that Feresheteh has parents who love her and care. I can tell Aunt Delbar and Uncle Azar care that they love her.
A gentle tap on the shoulder drew me out of my thoughts.
“Star I hope you understand, we did not come looking for charity or a safe place. We came because we needed to make sure Feresheteh was safe.”
“I know and I understand.” I managed. Looking at my aunt.
“I cannot say we would have come if things were different. I do know if we would have or if we would have stayed in Afghanistan, but we are here and I am glad we are. You turned into a beautiful young woman, you look like your Mom did when she was younger.”
“I saw no picture of her as a child from when she was a younger. She seemed so old to me, and so out of touch. She just let my Father do those things. I did not understand why at the time, but I am beginning to understand why now.” I said.
I had to excuse myself from the room, before I broke down. The memories, the pain, it was all coming back to me. I was letting go of years of pint up emotions, pint up grief. Things I had thought I had let go of, it seemed now I had not.
Hope followed me into the room we had shared as a child. Feresheteh was now in the living room with the rest of the family, and for that I was grateful. I did not want her to see my break down and scare her any more than she already was.
“I’m sorry.” I said, sobbing to Hope. “I didn’t want to break down like this. I guess I always thought of my birth Mother as some kind of monster, now I am staring to see that she was just a lost soul, and I am grieving her loss.”
“Star it’s okay. It’s been a long time coming. You do not need to apologize for your tears.”
“I guess sometimes I still get ashamed when I show emotion.”
“Star it’s okay. The good Lord does not expect us to be strong every minute of every day.”