I’ve deliberately avoided putting my fingers to the keyboard for months. Any and all threateningly powerful emotions have been very neatly put away in a box. I’m experiencing an overflow. And they are all demanding attention. Kabanga. Newtown. Boston.
Boston. Running has taken me on a journey I never knew I could or would want to take. Running allows me to be free from whatever I choose. I meditate when I run. Running taught me about pain and the meaning of being strong. Racing is when I get to be with thousands who share my joy and my pain. It’s a time to celebrate our collective journey. It is a time to contemplate and enjoy where we are, how we got there, and hopefully where we will be going next. I can’t imagine running this weekend’s race or any other race without thinking about Boston. I can’t imagine what my journey will be like this year when I run in my first marathon in October. I’ve lost something—like dropping a glove in the throng of runners at the start line. I can’t retrieve it.
Newtown. When children are killed, they become my own. And those other children who witnessed the massacre? They were mine too. For a long time I was a grieving parent mourning the loss of my child. I was a parent shielding my child from the scarring images that forever will burn in her head. Saleha said to me the night of Newtown, “Mama, please don’t imagine you were a parent of one of those kids.” I told her I couldn’t help it. She said she couldn’t help it either.
Kabanga. When I arrived, it was so different, yet so… familiar. It took me a few days to realize that I felt like I was home. The landscape, the small kampung-like houses, and the people’s wonderful hospitality and generosity. But every day at the school I was with children with bleak futures. We all did as much as we could, realizing that each evening when we left the children to go back to our safe and clean house, many would sleep in rooms filled with stench from an overflowing sewer. And wake up to armed guards, not hugs from moms and dads… But each day, we did give hugs and love. As much as we could. But. How dare we complained about a missing toilet seat in our bathroom. How dare we complained about that smell that permeated everything we wore. How dare we complained about not having anything to do. How dare we complained about ANYTHING.
Sometimes, there just aren’t answers to the sadness. Okay. Back in the box. For now.