24 March 2016

journey's end [6 years in cambodia + 1 year in canada]

[ some thoughts from june 2015 as we marked the one year anniversary of leaving cambodia & returning to terrace]

nothing is lost on the breath of God

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.


Christina Lopez said...

It really hurts to read this. Beautifully written, Amanda.

Ali McCullough said...

Wow, what a lot of experiences you have had these last years, Amanda and Dan. <3

corners of my life said...

You are an amazing young woman - an inspiration to us all.