Friday, January 27, 2017
It's been a week of discovery.
My mom's first trip overseas brought her to Benin; the country that almost killed me but actually made me stronger, between the allergic reactions and moto crashes and desperate loneliness that somehow exists at the same time as joyful contentedness, that is the life of a Peace Corps volunteer. It also brought her to the Africa Mercy, this remarkable place of hope and healing, of life and light and joy and incredible stories and lots and lots of love. This place, these people, this continent has been my truth and the basis for all of my life choices... and now someone else in my family 'gets it' in a way that you just can't until you have actually discovered the truth for yourself.
It's been a discovery of why I left Microsoft and a salary and stability and life in America to serve on the far side of the sea. Why I left family and friends and everything familiar to love people in a land I didn't even really know existed. Why I've stayed this long, and am grieving my departure in a few months. And why I will never be 'normal' ever again.
It's been a discovery of why I will always choose experiences over things and that the collection of 'stuff' has never really interested me. And that though life to the full doesn't include much of what America thinks it should, it is still an abundant, extravagant, beautiful, full life.
It's been a discovery of the beauty of Benin, that can be found in even the most dismal conditions. The smiles of children who have little material wealth but more joy than can be contained. The colorful fabrics and buildings and foods, the smells and sights and sounds of a busy port, a chaotic market, and the crashing sea.
Once these things are discovered, one can never go back; already, whispers and wonderings of the next trip or the next adventure, and a contented smile as I wave her goodbye on the dock. It's true, what they say, you know. Once you walk up our gangway, you always leave a different person; it's not just for our patients, but for each one of us, too.
Thank you, Mom, for accepting the invitation, and being brave, and discovering the truth that is my life. May we never go back to what was, but always look ahead with anticipation to what is yet to come. I love you.