Saturday, March 15, 2008

Last day

I got up on Sunday morning and packed all my belongings. Then I showered and went to church with the kids. On each of my last 3 trips, I have flown out on Sunday but usually too early to go to church with the kids. This time my flight was not until 4:10pm, so I got to go to church and some of the kids could accompany me without missing it either. I'm not crazy about church in Haiti but I do love an opportunity to see our kids all dressed up.


Jessica creating rainbows for us with the sequins on her skirt

Martine getting the girls lined up

Two by two!

At the bottom on the hill, waiting for everyone to get there before we go outside the seminary wall.

Nelcia, Mikerlange, and Nehemie

Fabulous Fabi

Beana and Wislandy stole the gatekeeper's chair
I hate walking down the hill to church because I am terrified that I will slip and fall on my rear. I have told the kids that if given the choice between walking up the hill or walking down the hill, I would always choose up. They, on the other hand, hate walking up and much prefer walking down. How do they get around their dislike of walking up the hill? Well, many of them run up the hill. Others make it a game to weave in and out of the many other church-goers who are also marching up the hill. Some try to get me to carry them and some of them focus their energy on tugging me up the hill by my hands. When we get to the top, we generally wait for about 5 minutes for the nannies and the social bugs (Stephanie, Fabiola, Youdemie, Chrystel) to catch up. Once everyone is there, we can all walk down the road to the pension together.

The boys waiting in front of the main seminary building

Patient Peterson

Bernadin and Argusto eyeing the latecomers
Back at the pension, I scarfed down a little chicken and rice and then started my good-byes. Once again, I thought I was going to make a dry run to the airport and once again, I was completely wrong. Maybe if I slept a little more the night before I fly out I would do better...

I made the rounds at the girls' house. Merline Guillaume is always the one who gets really emotional when I am leaving, but we had had a good cry on Saturday and she was accompanying me to the airport, so that one at least was postponed. Most of the girls did remarkably well - I think that they are finally believing me when I say that I will come back and I will not forget about them, ever. I took a quick trip into the NLL area to say good-bye to them - I'm never sure which of them may be going to their adoptive families in my absence so I try to give out some good hugs and kisses. Somehow I missed Lovenie, but she stood in the doorway and yelled "Hey! Hey!" until I came back and kissed her. Down in the little boy toddler room, I kissed a few of the boys good-bye and then just waved at the rest. As I was walking out of the room, little Merlo came marching up to me and gestured to his cheek. "Where's my kiss?" he asked commandingly.

Then I went to the boys' house to say good-bye to all of them. This time it was Jacques that got me going. He was sitting on one of the bunks playing sudoku and I plopped down beside him to say good-bye. I hugged him and started to move on to the next kid, but he grabbed me for a second hug. That was when I started crying. A minute later, I was hugging Drisk out in the salon and he was doing his silly Drisk-ness and I was crying harder. Duck got me too and John Peter. Then I got to the little boys. Monsanto is due to leave with his adoptive mother any day so I will probably not see him again. I dropped down on my knees and gathered him in for a big hug and just bawled. I don't think he had any idea why I was so upset, but he hugged me back, precious little arms around my neck. I will miss that little man so much!

Acheley, Renick, Alex, Job, Bernadin, Mikerlange, Nadia, and Merline Guillaume accompanied me to the airport. Stephanie Q and Kattia were supposed to come too but they were performing at youth group in the afternoon and they were afraid that we wouldn't be back in time, so they opted to stay behind.

Do I look like I've been crying or what?

Job, Lamarre, and Alex

Bernadin bringing up my suitcase. He was in his usual "I hate you for leaving" funk. No smiles or goofiness from this boy today or for a few days afterwards.

Loading up the tap-tap
Renick fell asleep on my arm on the way to the airport. The rest of us just sat and didn't really look at each other. I love riding around PAP but I hate it when my final destination is the airport. As we pulled into the parking lot, Mikerlange flung a desperate look in my direction. "Why do you have to leave? Why don't you just stay here with us? We can turn around and drive back to Bolosse right now."

We said our good-byes in the parking lot beside the tap tap. All three girls were crying and so was I. Job was standing alone, leaning against the tap tap, crying into his shirt. I hugged them each in turn and then Job and Bernadin helped me carry my bags across to the airport entrance. A porter immediately grabbed my belongings and started ushering me into the building. "Whoa, not yet. I haven't said my last good-bye!" I hugged Job and then I hugged Bernadin and then I hugged Job again and then Bernadin hugged me and wouldn't let go. We stood there, him holding me and me holding Job. I was crying and the roof was dripping on us, like the airport itself was sad to see me go. I finally kissed them one last time and walked to the entrance. Before they pushed me inside I had time for one wave to the kids and then I couldn't see them anymore.

I walked up to the counter and the woman checked my passport. "Ma'am, your flight has been cancelled," she announced calmly. Part of me froze and part of me wanted to start dancing around, "You got your wish, Mikerlange!" They ended up putting me on an earlier flight that was so delayed that its eventual departure time was the same as my initial flight. I spent the night on the airport floor in Miami, flew to NY in the morning and took a bus to Boston from NY. I arrived at my apartment 29 hours after waving good-bye to the kids.

My friends, it does get better. I have cried significantly less over this departure than over my last 3. The reverse culture shock has been much easier and I am actually enjoying my life here in Boston. Yes, I miss the kids and I miss the clinic and I miss everything about Haiti. Yes, I talk to them on the phone and I wish desperately that I was sitting with them. Yes, I walk into my kitchen and start to cry because I have so many options of healthy foods in front of me. But I know and they know that I am coming back. We miss each other, but we know that it won't be long before we are together again. Take courage; it does get easier.

No comments: