Tonight, as I write, we just left the girls home where they threw us a “good-bye” party. Dear readers, five months has come and gone, and somewhere in the mix my heart was given to five little girls who managed to steal a piece of me forever.
In short, i’ve never known a love like this. A love where five precious children become like flesh and blood, and sparked in me something new, something untouched, something holy.
Now, you have to understand that in all my travels, I generally never cry when leaving a place. Actually, I can’t think of a single time when I’ve shed a tear in my departure. That may sound horrible, but i’m just not someone who cries when leaving people. I guess I just assume i’ll see them again.
But for the last few days i’ve been avoiding the fact that we are leaving Thursday. This Thursday. In some ways I feel incredibly indignant wondering why I must be ripped apart from the people and places that have swollen my heart with love.
But mostly I feel emotional and thankful, grateful that God even gave this gift of Nepal to Kevin and I. We hold it tight and loose at the same time; gripping hard at the memories we will own in the deep recesses of our heart, but letting go because five months is what we knew it would be all along.
This was our special season, a love offering from the One who knows our desires best.
And yet, this gift has been harder to leave behind than I anticipated.
I stepped into the home tonight, and it began right away. These doe-eyed girls staring deep, searching me as if I would somehow confess that we weren’t really leaving Thursday, or ever. And I wanted that to be true. With all my heart I did. But it isn’t. We have to go.
They made us dinner, and we talked and laughed. But then the gifts started coming, and words began to spill. And after reading the first card I received, I started sobbing.
Sobbing. Hard, body wrenching tears that fall and dampen your clothes so that you have to move lower and lower on your shirt to use as a tissue. And it completely took me off guard. Me, who never cries when leaving, was having a full on sob fest!
The girls were immediately at my side, hemming me in on all sides with those hugs that you want to live in for days. “Don’t cry, Katie sister” they repeated. But their tears were just as real and heavy with parting grief, and we locked eyes, glossy and radiant, and whispered the “I love you’s” and the “I’ll miss you’s” and all those sacred words filled with meaning that really can’t even express the emotion.
What I really wanted was to just pack them all in my suitcase and take them with me forever. And they joked about that too, and we pretended to make a suitcase with our arms and have them crawl through it. But we all knew the reality, and our charades grew solemn.
The electricity went out, and we sat in darkness, with a small light to fill the room. And one by one they got up and shared something about Kevin and I. Someone translated for them so they could share in the depth they desired. The things they shared took me off guard. It was though I waited for something generic, and was instead greeted with descriptions of the most personal intimate moments between the two of us.
“when I first came to the home, I saw Katie. She came right up to me and gave me a hug. Never had somebody I didn’t know just come up and hugged me. I was very scared and sad when I arrived, but something in that hug made me happy and knew I was loved”
To be honest, it feels funny for me to type out what someone else said about me. But there was something in this comment that touched my heart, and made me realize that every small act of kindness we give does not go unnoticed.
You guys, Kevin and I wept like infants. With each girl that stood up, we could not contain the absolute sadness as well as joy that accompanied the words they spoke. I shook while a salty stream ran wild down my face.
One of our staff members has a five year old girl who also lives at the home. Her daughter is literally obsessed with Kevin. Whenever we are at the home, she is sitting on his lap, making him “tea” from her toys, or dancing with him. When this staff member shared about how Kevin became like a father to her daughter, the water works exploded and there was not a dry eye in the room.
When the girls and staff were finished sharing with us, and I felt certain I had pulled it together, Kevin and I walked up to the front of the room to say a little something to the girls and staff. We looked at one another, a gaze electric and charged with heavy emotion, and looked back at the girls. And then I lost it. I covered my face with my hands while my body let loose, and Kevin worked on regaining his composure. It was like the pipe sprang a leak, and the plumber was no where to be found. Somehow in the midst of the tears, a river of gratitude leapt for our lips as we recounted the last five months. And how these once strangers became our family.
When we were done, the electricity came on and the room was filled with light.
And mostly, we embraced. And rocked. And cried. And smiled. And laughed. And recalled our favorite memories.
And then we made hemp bracelets.
Because as hard as it is to leave, it is harder still not to just sit and enjoy the time we have together.
And so we did. Into the night we made bracelets, and picked beads, and did all the normal things we usually do. Because I really think the best of life is just the building of a life together. Being with others. Laughing with others. Every day, over and over again.
And that’s what I’ll miss most. Just living side by side with these brave and resilient girls that changed my life, so that I can no longer live the way I used to. I have learned to be more grateful, I have learned to be more courageous, and I have learned to give love even if I’ve been hurt in the past. They do it every day.
I suppose all I have left to really say is that I fell in love these past five months and that the leaving won’t be easy by any means. But the remnants of them I hold dear in my soul will forever make me better, more forgiving, and more loving.
Thank you Jesus for this, this love.
** Thank you for staying with me in this post. I suppose it was more of a journal entry than a blog post…a way to reflect and process the massive amount of emotion churning in my soul. Please pray for us as we leave! Thank you!