It was obvious this morning that something was off inside Cava. He was not his usual cheerful morning self. Typically, he will come over to me with his great big smile, a wonderful Cava hug, and say, "Good morning, Papa." This morning, however, he was more subdued and more solitary. Looking at him, I could see a sadness in him.
As he was getting dressed, he got angry with putting on his socks that the grays on the bottoms of them weren't lining up properly. He snapped, "Stupid socks!" Later, as he was working on his puzzle, he got angry with some pieces and yelled, "I hate this puzzle!"
At one point, Cava said, "I don't like this house!"
Danelle overheard him and asked, "Well, where do you like, Cava?"
"Ukraine," he replied. She felt hurt hearing this, came and found me to tell me.
"It's too be expected," I replied. "I'm sure he feels a real, deep sense of loss."
At lunchtime, after I'd said the blessing, and we began to eat, Cava didn't. He just sat there with his head down and a look of sadness about him.
"Cava, are you okay?"
"Do you want to talk about it with Papa?"
"Yes," he said and got up from his chair and we went to another room. I sat him on my lap and held him. "What's the matter, buddy?"
"Are you sad?"
"What are you sad about?"
"I miss Ukraine."
"What do you miss about Ukraine?"
"I'll bet you do," I said, hugging him, "it's hard to leave your friends. I grew up in Charlotte and when I was 12, we moved. I was sad because all of my friends were there that I had known since I was little. Moving to a new place where I didn't know anyone was hard and scary. Even now, Cava, when I think of home, I still think of that house."
Then I asked him, "What do you think your friends would think of where you live now and your room?"
"They would think it's cool with all the Spider-man."
"I'll bet they would."
And we began to talk about his friends and I asked if any of his friends in Ukraine liked to do puzzles as much as he did (there was only one puzzle at the boarding school where he lived). "No, they didn't like puzzles." He began to tell me how, when we go back to Ukraine to visit, that he'd show me the room where the puzzle was. Going back to visit Ukraine is a new subject that he has begun to consider. He speaks of going back to visit his friends there.
He perked up a little but I was concerned because we were going to meet friends at the Catawba Science Center that afternoon. I was also concerned since Benjamin's friend Shane was coming with us and Cava struggles with not having friends of his own to come over and play with him (which is also part of the reason that he misses his friend in Ukraine so much). He has a hard time in feeling like an outsider. He desperately wants to fit in and not be seen as different. With this struggle, it is natural for him to miss his homeland where he did fit in.
At the Catawba Science Center, Benjamin and Shane went off on their own while Cava tended to stick to either Danelle or myself.
He was thrilled to touch a live shark (to my surprise, shark's skin doesn't feel smooth but feels more like sandpaper).
The aquariums tend to be his favorite part of the museum and he'll spend more time looking at those than any other areas.
He even took a trip to Mars. Here he is on the red planet.
After Cava was done visiting all the areas of the science museum, he and I went over to the art museum. We walked among all the paintings and sculptures, talking about different works, what we thought they were, which ones we liked and didn't like. He showed his Cava charm with this lady . . .
But he declared this one, "Creepy."
As we walked along together, just the two of us, I noticed that look of sadness about him again.
"Cava, it's natural for you to miss Ukraine. You can always tell Mommy and I that you do. We won't get upset if you do. But as much as you miss Ukraine, I'm glad you're here with us now. I love you very much and if you weren't here, do you know what I'd be?"
"Exactly! Very, very sad."
"Papa?" he said.
"I'm glad I'm here, too." Then he came over and took my hand.
As we walked back to the others, I knew this would not be the last time we would have to console his grieving. There are so many areas where we have just begun to scratch the surface of what is inside of this brave little boy who has suffered so much pain and loss. We are just looking at a thimbleful of water and there is a whole ocean of emotions that are unexplored within him.