Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tears and laughter

Today has been a day of conflicting emotions.

I woke this morning to a text from a dear friend. It brought very sad news. Our high school English teacher passed away yesterday. Her name was Pam Stanek and she was wonderful in every way. Some of us called her “Pamcakes” and she had cute nicknames for a bunch of us. I was “Toots.” When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time in her classroom. She was the person who encouraged me to pursue community health education and she was one of the first donors when I established my foundation. In fact, she was one of my steady followers on this blog—she always cheered on her students. Pamcakes, you will be missed.

It’s a strange thing when something changes at home while you are abroad. Whether happy or sad, trivial or significant, it always feels sort of removed. Like I can’t quite get my head around it. A silly example is the social trend of using # to convey messages. That trend gained popularity while I was in Uganda in 2012 and because I spent little time on social media and didn’t have access to other forms of media, the entire #movement went over my head. I really didn’t see the appeal nor understand the point. Yet, it only took me about a week after returning to the States for me to be swept up in the #supercoolandtrendywaytosaysomething. Before I knew it, I was #Hashtagging too.

This is a trivial example to use, but I’m trying to explain why the death of a dear mentor doesn’t make sense to me today. I think Uganda creates a sort of alternate universe for me where day-to-day events back home just can’t resonate with me within this context. That said, I’m sure a time to grieve will come.

Now, the conflicting emotion:

On a joyous note, Kathryn and I went to the nursery campus this morning. Once again, my friends greeted us with love and excitement. Kathryn distributed kazoos (big hit!) and I handed out jewelry and shared my wedding photos. They teased me for having, “Bad manners” for not inviting all of them to the wedding. I said that they couldn’t take time off work in June, so I brought the wedding to them. We had so much fun looking through pictures, I let them pick out their favorites for them to keep, and we all were in stiches laughing together. I really felt like I shared the day with them.   

At one point, my friend, Nurse Miriam pulled me aside and asked for a word in private. When we sat down in her office, she pulled out a beautifully woven picnic basket. She said, “This is your wedding present, sorry I was not able to attend. You will use this at the market in America and think of Miriam in Uganda.” I was speechless. What she doesn’t realize is that I already think of her all the time.

The other neat thing that happened at the nursery campus was that I met two of the little girls who had only just been born when I left. Nurse Susan’s daughter, Noel Cherish Christine (after me!) and Teacher Ruth and Headmaster John Robert’s daughter, Vanessa are both four years old now. It was so cool to see these girls thriving!

I usually bring up some kind of introspective lesson or thought provoking sentiment in my blog posts (or at least I make an attempt!) But today, I’m all tapped out. The most I can say is that time and time again, I have learned that with the bad there is always good. The world lost a wonderful human but I cannot forget the wonderful people who remain in my life.

With love,

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