Thursday, February 28, 2008

two questions

A friend asked me on the phone what my happiest and saddest memories of Liberia are. I answered her incorrectly on the saddest one so let me get it right here. (btw, it's 5:45am here and I've been laying awake in bed for the past hour. this whole sleeping thing has eluded me for quite some time now...)

I would actually call it the most disturbing memory but it's sad too.
So if you've never heard Liberian English, it's a whole nother dialect and virtually impossible to understand for the newbie. Knowing this, the Liberians speak freely (aka quickly and without fixing grammar and vocab) around the white folks (they considered my nephew white as well which I got a kick out of) when they don't want for them to understand - like their own secret language.
So I'm chillin at the compound and there's about 10-15 guys sitting on the steps with me. One of them is telling a story and they're all laughing and prodding him on. I begin to tune them in, curious about the topic that has them all attentive.
The story teller is in front of the group (they're all about 20-30yrs old) and his whole body moves as he acts out portions of the tale. If I can read his lips, I understand about 50% more of what he's saying so everytime that he turns his head, I have 25% of an idea what he's saying.
'The general was just standing there, totally surrounded. You know what they did to him?'
(audience laughs)
'They stabbed him and stabbed him and kept on.'
(more laughter as the story teller acts out the part of the general getting stabbed in the lungs. He begins wheezing for a breath that his body cannot hold. he looks surprised everytime that he gets stabbed. more laughter)
'And he just takes it! And he's like (storyteller continues wheezing) and there's blood blood a-ll over the floor coming from him, like a river, more and more blood'
(I rise up from the stairs and exit the scene, trying not to cry at the reaction to the story being told. I understand that there's only so much that these men can handle and that we all deal with war and trauma differently... but the callousness and the emptiness that is required from someone to speak this way... it's a side of humanity that we ignore and push aside {have you seen 'The Beach'?} because it's so much easier to speak of Brittany and her boys rather than the brutality of the world that surrounds us. I can't help but wonder how we can just stand aside and watch this happen... I wonder why so few are willing to help, and why even fewer follow through when they're on the ground.)

Probably hearing my son call me 'Mommy' for the first time. I've never, and will never, tell any of my children to call me Mom. I want for them (the adopted children) to come to that conclusion within their own hearts without my pushing them to it.
I was headed to the bathroom for a splash of cool water on my face when I heard Big P ask some woman named Mommy what she was doing. I glanced around the bedroom, and sure enough, I was the only woman there.
I looked over at my nephew to ask if I had heard Big P correctly. My nephew smiled and nodded his head, "he called you Mommy, Raquel. Congratulations!"
I, of course, gave Big P an unexpected and delayed hug. He winced with pain. I apologized for forgetting about the tumor on his back. I rubbed his arm instead. He smiled at me quickly and then looked down shyly. One of the pineapple-and-beaches moments...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

home again home again - where to begin??

...oh man...

this one is going to be quick because I don't know where to start nor where to end. I wish that I had a list of questions that I could just answer.

what's on my mind now?

I'm feeling overwhelmed with the scary diagnosis that Big P received while in Liberia... saw the pediatrician today who is setting us up with an appt at Children's nuero-oncology department. if that doesn't make a momma nervous, I don't know what would.

Big P is glued to my husband like white on rice - they deserve one another's love. It's amazing to watch.

Liberia is beautiful and disturbing and hot and wonderful and I miss it and in my heart I feel between two places at once, home and Liberia. I haven't downloaded any photos yet but I'll work on it this week.

Switched Little P to the girls' school today. Tired of the communication gap.

My house smells new. Liberia smelled like damp, hot, sweet spices. Getting off of the plane and smelling that wonderful scent will forever be indented in my brain. So many times I questioned the paths that I took when I was down there. Thought about my past and my future and all of the things that I could do but haven't done. Thought about how families should stay together and we should enable them to raise their own children. Thought about how everyone deserves an education and how the US is spoiled so rotten that it makes my stomach sour.

Spent many an hour sitting on the white sandy beach listening to the Atlantic ocean spill up onto the shore while the sun fell across the horizon and thought, 'it doesn't get better than this.'

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Not actually home yet

You goofballs! We definately are not home yet and it is HOT up in Liberia! I'm telling you! Life is slow and dramatic and sad and wonderful.

The poverty here is immense.

Whether you like it or not, you'll hear all about it when I get back home.

Gotta jet - I'm in someone else's room and their kid might have malaria - dr just got here....


Sunday, February 10, 2008

my boy

A self portrait of the cutest man alive (well, he's tied with my other three men at home)....

Friday, February 1, 2008

to all the moms

to all the moms
who won't be surprised
when I tell them that the day before
I'm leaving for three weeks
the flu has hit my home.
would you all pray
that it won't continue
to slaughter the stomachs
of my small children
(or their dad who can't be sick right now)
(or their mom who has already imagined the horrible plane ride with the flu. wishing I was in bed, wishing Sherman would bring me cold drinks and tickle my back, but instead puking into a barf bag while those who got seated near me are quite disgruntled that I got onto a plane sick.)