one of the members of our team is approaching the end of her mission. she has been here for just over five months. I have watched her go through the stages that I have gone through. I am watching her now try to stifle the excitement she has for going home, trying to save it for when she steps onto the plane, for when she will be able to believe
it. our field coordinator, maurizzio, was talking about what it is like when one’s mission ends. you leave from Khartoum and step off the plane in Geneva, and the world you left, collapses. disappears.
i am not surprised. we completely inhabit it, focus our entire energies on it, but as soon as you queue up in the airport to get a starbucks latte, it will seem as far away as the moon. but that is why I am writing this. to convince us all that it is not. that it is right here, that today is Friday May 11, 10:20 am, and a lizard is crawling around under my feet, that the wall of the tukul is already hot, two tiny blue birds are hopping just outside my door (always in pairs, these birds) and the hospital is just down the road. soon someone will pull up on a donkey cart and carry their sick child into our emergency room because they heard they can get medicines there.
of course, I can only do a small, imperfect job. I have a hurried half an hour to write something in one copy, maybe post some photos. I can’t bring you here, as much as I would like that. much of the perspective gained is mine, and perhaps I will only realize it completely for a split second as abyei disappears into the horizon of my memory.
part of the secret to my happiness here has been to not think of the future, nor the past. to imagine my day only as it folds into the next one. every thought that starts about my vacation, or how much I miss careening around Toronto streets on my bicycle, I let the air out of it like a balloon. I can only be here.
but, if I could be anywhere else today, I would be in Alberta. I would be driving down the country road to my home, the one I left a decade or more ago, the only one I have ever really had. I would pull into our driveway, and drive slowly up it, stones popping from underneath the tires. i would stop, shut the car off, and listen to the calm smooth silence. i would open the door, then the trunk, grab my bags, open the gate, and walk inside.
almost tough to type that, I can imagine it so clearly. and as clearly, the delight on my mother’s face. mine would be just as strong of course, but I have learned to hide it. it burns brightly, but just under the surface. hers doesn’t. it burns like a star. she is the most famous person in the world. trust me. if you met her, you would know.
if anything that I am doing requires strength, none of it is mine. it was given to me by my family. from my mother, and my father, and even from my forever-to-be-1/4-of-an-inch-littler brother. for none of them has life been easy, it seems to me not for even 15 minutes, but never has that seemed the goal. to live and work honestly, to give love and respect freely, to value most the qualities we aspire to most; these are the lessons I have freely received for my whole life. this is why I can bear the things that I do, because I know we are all quietly doing it.
so, mom, for all the things I have been given, offering my love and thanks on this one day doesn’t seem like enough. be sure, though, I manifest it every single day in every thing that I do. i know sometimes you wish you could be here, but of course, you already are.
thank you. love. happy mother’s day.