Saturday, April 22, 2006

Back to Paul. Paul is the son of the woman dying of Aids. I went to his bed and he reached out to me as we had spent a bit of time together that day. "Mam Mam" were his words his words. I gently sat down on the edge of his bed to pick him up and cuddle him. Slowly his wails moved to tears, then to sobs, then sniffles. Then a big hug around my neck. Even now I cry just thinking about it. I gently leaned back with him in my arms and now on my chest as our head lowered to the bottom of the bunk bed. "Ahh" was his sigh. Eventually asleep. When I slowly moved to put him down, his eyes opened and he reached out to me "mam". "Shhh, boss. boss." "It's ok. it's ok" was my reply. Ok, how could it ever really be ok for him again with his mother? But he trusted my words for them moment, He closed his eyes believing I still be there if he opened them again. He tested it out a few times. Shutting his eyes and the opening them to just be sure. After a long time I slowly got up. He immediately woke up and began to scream, but it was even louder this time. We rocked back and forth as he reached even tighter around my neck to ensure I wasn't going to leave. Then just as his head had fallen asleep and finally had peace....something inside him stirred him awake. I hadn’t moved a muscle, but something is his tiny body knew it just wasn’t ok. He woke himself up from a dead sleep and he pieced again. I wondered where his dying mother was at that moment and if she could feel his pain too. Was she crying just as loud in the silence of her darkness. Thankfully his agony barely stirred the other children sleeping in the room on their sweet new sheets, dreaming happy dreams. I knew eventually he too would share in their peace. Chantal2 came in and sat across from me in the darkness as we both shared one heart for this dear dear boy. With his sleep so dramatically disrupted, my arms and rocking motion were no longer enough to satisfy his broken and scared heart so I walked him back and forth in the darkness of the tiny bedroom filled with room for 2 bunk beds and nothing more. His wails slowed a bit, but not anywhere near calm. Eventually Chantal reached out to me to take him from my arms despite his yearning to stay there. He turned from her shoulder to try to get back to mine desperately reaching out for me. Her decision was the right one, for I won't be here tomorrow night. She knew his bonding needed to be with an on-going "auntie" which would not be me. Without a word, we both knew it was best. I gently placed him in her arms, he twisted and turned to come back to me. She held him tightly in her arms and walked him outside in the moonlight to settle his soul. I'm not sure how long he cried. I went in to check on him this morning. I peeked in at 5:30 to find Francoise curled up with him at the edge of his bed. He was sitting up, just hanging out studying her face. When I peaked 30 minutes later he was snuggled up beside her. After the party last night, I stepped outside to take to say goodnight to some of the staff. I thought they were just hanging out to clean up. But, much to my surprise, they were actually settling in for the night. How could I have missed this important understanding over the course of my 2 weeks? They actually sleep in the and around the small building that adjoins the home. The 2 women sleep on one twin mattress. No sheets, no blankets that I saw. Perhaps they were tucked in a bag. They have a very small room with a door. The wonderful Cyizg sleeps a similar bed outside. They were laughing and carrying on, having great fun. Since both women were new to the home as of the past 2 days, it was great to see them bonding. Yes, I had heard their laugher late at night and just as the sun came up each morning. But I always assumed they went home each night. While this may sound like a horrible environment, based on the standards of the country, they were well provided for and knew it. I have grown accustomed to seeing everyone in the same clothes each day. It really doesn’t matter. It makes me reflect on the insanity of all the options we rotate though on in a regular week or two in the states. Paul’s sister Marie Rose was still pretty distant with everyone, but she was beginning to warm up. Rose Marie struggled to climb to the top bunk at her 1st nap that afternoon, but she had it mastered and was all smiles when it came time for a full nights rest. If the people did not feed her, I can only imagine what her sleeping accommodations were. Along with Paul, these 2 other beautiful additions to the home quickly understand the meaning of love. more to follow...but I need to catch a plane back to the states. thank you for sharing this journey with me.

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