god be with you

July 18, 2007

I never knew I was capable of such great emotion in a simple goodbye. In the past, goodbyes have been rather cold affairs, dreaded because of what I thought I should feel instead of what I actually did. But this time the dam broke. What I expected to be a routine round of kusse [dutch for “kisses”] and hugs became an unstoppable flow of tears springing up from some hidden geyser of grief. Every time I looked into Annie’s eyes and tried to tell her how lovely, how precious she was, I ended up instead blubbering incoherently through my mess of tears and sniffles.
Annie was my dear friend, my lifeline of a caring friend, for the past six months. She and I spent our days caring for the children together, then I ritually walked her back to the compound each afternoon, recapping the day and laughing about the girls’ antics or bemoaning their naughtinesses.. On weekends I clung to her, following her around like a homeless puppy dog on the days when she was on duty and I was off. And on the rare days when we both had free time, we sat in her little hut chatting, walked through the compound visiting, and sometimes took the bus to nearby towns for a change of scenery and the chance for her to buy maize, kapente, and other staples. Annie was my dear friend.
And what hurts so intensely is the knowledge that she most likely will never have the chance to pursue her dreams, to explore the world. as she so longs to do. She has never been given the privilege of enough schooling to learn how to read. She has never been able to travel outside the borders of her home country.
I cannot help but ask that almost cliché question of why some in the world have opportunities that others never do. Yet I suspect that this question cannot be answered—not this side of heaven, at least. What I do know is that Annie is every bit as talented, as capable, as charming, as the most accomplished of modern young women. And what I must trust is that she is where she is, with the opportunities she has and does not have for a greater purpose than what we mortals can see in the here and now.

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