Goodness – this one took forever to write. I’m sure that my experiences in Haiti will be popping up in future blogs, but right now I feel the need for an extended absorption phase. I need to keep my memories close and protected; cradle them in a sense, like I wanted to do with each child I saw there.
What I would like to share is how it feels to leave Haiti. Not that you ever really leave Haiti – God knows it never leaves you. And, I will be going back there at some point; there’s no question in my mind. Before our flight took off a few days ago, however, I wasn’t the least bit ready to board. Ironically, somewhere around the third day, I couldn’t imagine lasting the remainder of the week in that place. But by the end of it all, packing to head home pained me.
If you’ve read my last few posts, you’ll know that one of my many reasons for going was to give myself a much needed boost in compassion. I wanted to feel the reality of the suffering there. I wanted to be open to it instead of keeping people at arms length. Well, I got that boost – and then some. When the tears threatened, I gave them full license to fall, and I asked for hugs instead of hoping someone might notice my need for one.
At the end of it all, I slid into my window seat on our scheduled flight and watched as the coastline faded out of view. Eventually all I could see were clouds that looked just like the ones floating above North American privilege.
I thought about the soulful eyes that had searched deep into mine throughout the week; eyes that had seen too much and expected so little.
I yearned for a hot shower and a familiar bed and felt guilty knowing I’d soon have both. And I prayed for the girl who has panic attacks each night since the earthquake, and the woman whose breasts ache under the pressure of tumors that are too far advanced for treatment. So many stories, so much suffering, and yet – so much love.
Without celebration or fanfare, a graduation took place on that flight home. Graduation from an accelerated personal growth program. My classmates were made up of a phenomenal team of professionals who were all there for a common good. Also mentioned in previous posts is the fact that I’ve never had a real passion for nursing. This past week, however, was the proudest I’ve ever been to wear a stethoscope around my neck. Ironically, I experienced this pride without anyone paying me for my time. I, in fact, paid out of pocket to participate. How’s that for a life lesson?
We’re now wrapping up our travels on the outer banks of NC, and will be hitting the road back to Canada this morning. It’s been a phenomenal trip; one that will stay with me always. Now it’s back to creativity with a renewed spirit.