I’ve been home two and a half weeks now. These last few weeks haven’t been at all like I had planned. I leave soon for college, and I had hoped to spend lots of time with family and friends, doing fun summer things like swimming, picking berries, and enjoying the sunshine. But a sixteen-days-and-counting cold and the pain of a ruptured eardrum have greatly limited my planned activities (swimming completely knocked off the list, unfortunately).
One blessing of being more housebound is that I haven’t had very bad reverse culture shock. I’ve been able to do things on my own time, like reaching the point of wanting to go shopping. I’ve discovered the “trigger words” that make me cringe are “dirty” and “broken.” In America, we call a floor filthy that would be considered clean in Haiti. When someone says things like “that’s broken” or “that’s useless,” I can’t help but think how precious that same object would be to a Haitian.
I’m also missing my kids more and more as the days go by, because I know they are growing up and changing without me. I may or may not stalk the orphanage’s Facebook page to look for new pictures of my kids.
When I see a picture of Bella, I can smell her baby scent.
When I see a picture of Spunky, my angel with Downs, I can hear her throaty laugh, the one that makes everyone else laugh with her.
When I see a picture of Mr. Cuddles, I can feel his hands gently stroking my hair.
When I see a picture of Sweetheart, I can see her smile ever so slowly spread across her face.
Then sometimes I’ll start to imagine what it would be like if I had brought one of my kids home with me. I’ll randomly wonder how they would react to certain things and if they would like this or that food.
I can imagine Buddy walking through our house for the first time. He would want me to carry him on my hip, of course, but I think when he saw our dog through the window, he would get down and walk over to talk to her. Then if she barked, he’d come running back to me. He would love exploring our house, I know.
I can imagine Princess being scared with all the new things around her, but I think a good snack or two would make her happy. She’d soon find some toys and make them part of her domain.
I can imagine taking Dolly to church with me. She would cling to me for dear life, sitting on my lap and taking in the whole experience with her beautiful brown eyes. Everyone would fall in love with her immediately, and she’d gradually come out of her shell and start smiling at people.
I can imagine holding Smiley all the time, cooking with him in the kitchen and cuddling with him in the living room. He would practice sitting up, grunting from the hard work but still managing to give me a couple of his smiles. He would melt the heart of every person we would meet.
Oh how I wish any one of these imaginations could come true, that I could bring one of my babies here, even just to visit for a few weeks. I know it’s not possible, but somehow imagining it helps me feel closer to them.
People often say to me, “It must have been so hard to leave those kids” or “You must miss them a lot.” Yes, I do. More than I can say.
Sometimes during a conversation completely unrelated to Haiti, I’ll start thinking of my kids. I may not talk about them all the time, but I do still miss them.
When I try to describe their personalities to other people, I often find myself at a loss for words. To paraphrase Mr. Knightley in Emma, if I loved them less, maybe I could talk about them more.
So I write about them instead.