[ some thoughts from june 2015 as we marked the one year anniversary of leaving cambodia & returning to terrace]
a year ago, tomorrow, we stepped on an airplane & left our whole life.
& i felt for sure that my heart wouldn't be able to stand the shattering. the way ming kohm bent low to kiss a sleeping ezra, to stroke her cheek one last time. how could i know that our season of losing was just beginning?
in stillness, looking back, i can see the losing intertwined with a year's worth of celebration like a spider's web. a matrix of pain & wonder.
we threw off the shackles of work, of chasing injustice & celebrated a summer of home. we felt freer than the birds on our cross country road trip.
& we arrived to a home tinged. to a father's body fading. to hospital visits stretched long.
we unpacked. we celebrated one last thanksgiving. & we saw him give her roses for one last birthday.
we mourned the loss of a grandfather, a whole wide continent away & taught our children about trick or treating. & when we brought our pumpkins home, we called an ambulance for a father's pain without mercy.
on the day my family in the u.s. celebrated thanksgiving, we heard the doctor say there was nothing left to do. we sat with him & sang day & night. daniel's violin echoing down the halls. & on st. nicholas' day, a day brimming with gezellig memories, we lost him.
on my 33rd birthday we celebrated his life with a funeral that filled the church.
we celebrated new year's eve in the same hospital with a grieving widow, slowly losing all her muscels had learned.
we celebrated valentine's day with news of a baby; a spark of hope. & after an easter celebration we planted a tree to symbolize that loss. tiny & fierce.
i never wrote a reflection on our 6th year in cambodia because i couldn't wrap my head around the experience, around everything we saw & heard & did & learned. about the way we learned over & over about all that is beautiful & broken.
with a year of pondering behind me, i'm still waiting to grasp the metanarrative. i read somewhere that the memories we rehearse & weave into stories make grooves in our brains, between our neurons, sparking between our synapses & changing us.
as we close this chapter, these are the stories i chose to etch. the memories, the folktales, the stories that cambodian people have woven into their selves - of palaces & rice & colorful angels & dancing godesses & sweet mangoes & cool baths on warm evenings. of the mystery of the kingdom on the mekong & the deep beauty in shy smiles.
& i choose to remember this, my story, to wear its grooves into my history - the year we left. & lost. & celebrated.