Post-deportation, we have spent the past week trying to settle back into Arusha life. But the week didn’t offer up the routine I had hoped for.
The several days spent waiting for our new permits couldn’t consist of any “work” so instead they mostly consisted of sitting around during the day reading my novel, followed by going into town for drinks or a couple local events. A relaxing way to spend time, but after being a tourist for a week in Nairobi, I longed for a bit more purpose.
Finally, this Monday we were able to return to the Primary School where Vanja, Johanna, and I are volunteer teaching. We were excited to get back to our classes after a week and a half away, but in typical Tanzania fashion, our expectations were met with a different reality. Upon arriving at school Monday morning, we found the kids had “mid term exams” all week. So we had no teaching to actually do, which translated to more sitting around, reading, and a little lesson planning for when classes resumed as normal.
I look forward to spending some more time explaining what my various volunteer roles are at V4Y and at the school, but I figure I’ll wait to go into detail once I have put in more than one day of teaching, and when I’ve sunk my teeth in to some volunteering that involves a little more than editing documents on the computer.
To shift gears, this past week I have felt a little numb, definitely distracted, and much like my feet were having a hard time gaining traction, because this week was the last my grandmother had before she passed away Wednesday afternoon.
I knew I was saying goodbye to her for the last time when I left home three weeks ago, but I was not prepared for her quick decline and the intimate updates I received from family while I was half a world away. Since returning from Kenya last week, I have held an odd anticipation of her inevitable passing which has occupied my days, making them feel like I have been biding my time before I jumped on a plane for home.
And finally I received word that she went peacefully at home with family at her side. So here I am slogging through an overnight 8 hour layover in the beautiful Doha, Qatar airport unable to sleep before my 16 hour flight to Dallas in the morning. I still feel sort of numb from a long week of waiting. I still feel like my feet are turning, waiting to make full contact with the ground to propel me forward into a year I’ve planned for and envisioned for so long; yet, I am trying to reorient my focus to the deeply longed family time awaiting me at home.
My emotions come and go, surfacing at unexpected times like they typically do. My thoughts have centered around how thankful I am I was able to say goodbye to her when she was still ambulatory and coherent. I had the honor of giving her a couple weeks worth of foot rubs before I said goodbye. And most of all, I know she is no longer in pain, and will be remembered by a family full of people who loved her more than words.
I don’t really know what this week at home has in store fore me. I am so thankful that I have the means to jump up from my still new life on the other side of the world to join my family for her memorial and the processing that takes place when a loved one dies. In many ways it feels more foreign to go home and mourn than to live in the place I just left. It’s remarkable how quickly I’ve adapted and accepted life in Arusha as “normal,” even with all its often frustrating peculiarities. I find myself surprised it’s only been three weeks, and a little surprised that I’m already looking forward to returning.
Hope seems to keep my feet moving through what has been a fall full of the unanticipated. I have faith my feet will gain some traction soon. Prayers are appreciated as we celebrate my grandmother’s life this Wednesday, November 2nd in Colorado Springs.