Saturday, December 18, 2010
I am home, back in Ithaca. I was welcomed by the cold and the beautiful snow. I don't think I have ever been as thankful for cold fresh air. I could breathe full breathes. It has been quite some time given the level of air pollution in Kathmandu. I am now sitting in my living room, 2 sleeping dogs to the right and one playful black cat to the left. Hot cup of water and a warm fire. The snow is falling softly outside and my neighbors Christmas lights are sparkling through my windows. I am thankful.
Leaving Kathmandu was difficulty, but because I know I will be going back soon, I felt less sadness. In fact, I feel a strength like never before and anticipate the day I can hold my daughter again and keep her with me everyday and every night.
Upon leaving our Nepali home, the Everst Hotel, many staff came out to wish us a safe journey. We made such good friends. Pandey had his cab ready to go and helped load our luggage. A small gathering of people appeared around Pandey's car. Hotel personal, shop owners, other cabbys and the door man, who is a tall Nepali man who had on a traditional looking jacket and boots. Each day he always gave a beautiful bright smile and a "Namaste"... every day. Namaste literally means I see the God in you that is the God in me. So this hub of people, who now are like family, are hovering. Pandey pulled a little something from his car and began to open it. The other men are watching and knowing what he is doing. Then Pandey places a traditional Nepali hat upon father's head and says "you are Nepali now". All the men were smiling and laughing in joy and acknowledgement of Dad's new nationality. Then Pandey pulled another something from his car, opened it and wrapped a beautiful scarf around my neck, calling me his sister. The smiles we received and the eye contact and acknowledgment of family was moving. I felt my eyes fill with tears of gratitude and thanksgiving. I know my return to the Everest will be welcoming and heartfelt.
We said more goodbyes and then we were off to the orphanage. I have been telling myself to be strong and feel the joy not the despair in my situation. I promised myself I would be strong for Junu. So this morning the children greet us as they usually do, with toothy grins and heartfelt hugs. A few, blew past me to get to Buwa. I went inside and found my girl. It's funny, every time I go to get her at the orphanage, I don't see her right away, I have to search for her and most of the time, she is right there in front of me. She has this disappearing quality to her and she gets me every time. Perhaps she does this so she can take me in first. She and I were so happy to see each other. She gives a hint of a smile and accepts my open arms. I pull her close to me and she wraps her arms around my neck in her own particular way. I love her so. We go downstairs into the office so I can give Sanu the directions for Junu's medication as well as the script to keep in her health file. Junu sat upon my lap, calmly, but I know she sensed something was changing. I asked Sanu if she had talked with Junu about my leaving yet, and she said, "no". I said, "I think it's time to talk about this." So Sanu knelt down in front of me as Junu sat upon my lap, arm around my neck. Sanu spoke about how mama was going on a big plane and that I would be back soon to see her. Junu just sat there, almost stoic. She just seemed to be accepting this. As it followed, Sanu asked me if I wanted to feed Junu and of course I said yes. Now remember, Junu has been refusing the food at the orphanage because she knows she is going with me, but today, she willingly accepted all the food I offered her. She knew I was leaving.
It was becoming that time and I needed to say good-bye. I kissed her a million times and hugged her deeply. I told her how much I loved her and that I would be back soon. I let Sanu hold her as I made my way into Pandey's car. Sanu and Junu stood outside the cab and Junu gave me the deepest look. No emotion, but a deep knowing look. I blew kisses and "held it together" until the metal gates of the orphanage entrance clanged shut. I felt the pressure build up in my chest and I just buried my head in my hands. The sobs came, the irregular breathing and then, the calm and peace that passes all understanding. Pandey looked lovingly in his rear view mirror and said "No, no, tears, be happy, she is healthy, she is yours, you are coming back. I will look in on her, she is cared for." So once again, I did what I was told, because I knew if I allowed my mind to go into the despair, it would be too much to overcome and I NEED to be strong. So that was really it. I haven't shed anymore tears about the distance between Junu and I because I know there is a greater plan at hand and I am in total trust.
We made our way to the airport and prepared for the long flight ahead. Total flight time 28 hours, yes that's it 28 hours in the plane and this doesn't include the rig-a-ma-roll within the airports. The first part of our journey was easy. God placed an angel next to me from Kathmandu to Singapore. Jax is her name and she truly was an angel. She was probably in her late twenties/early thirties, but she had a youthfulness that made her seem much younger, yet at the same time she had a wisdom that seemed ancient. She had pale fresh skin, rose colored lips, clear sea blue eyes and brownish/reddish short hair. She was a cherub. She had been traveling around Nepal and India for 6 months. She spent time in an orphanage in India where the children there are infected with HIV. She spoke about the profound qualities of these children. We spoke about how changed we both felt after being in the presence of children with so much seemingly against them, but truly knowing their strength is more than one could comprehend. She ended her time in Nepal with a 1 month Buddhist meditation retreat, so she was really clear and filled with peace. I needed this. She and I immediately found our sisterhood together. We laughed hysterically much of the flight. We had that kind of humor with one another. She reminded me of my friend Jaekah in many ways, because Jaekah is the one friend I can laugh with for no good reason...we just laugh. Jax made the first leg of my trip back home light and filled with good feelings. Dad and she had much to share as well. We all felt the blessing...again. So many blessings. So many. Our trip with Jax ended in Singapore as she was onward to Australia, home for her. I took her email and said my good-byes. I hope to see her again one day.
The rest of our flight back went without difficulty except the challenge of sitting up for all of these hours. Dad nor I couldn't really sleep on the plane. We might have a 15 minute slumber, but no true sleep. We watched movies, ate plane food, fidgeted about, and then finally I put on my ipod and listened to some music. Music always helps me cope. I tried to read, but I just couldn't do it, too agitated or something. So Claudia, those two books you bought me are still fresh, but I am thankful I had them...just in case.
We made it all the way to JFK in New York City. Now, we were almost home, so happy....BUT Delta airlines had a different plan. NEVER fly DELTA. Each time I fly with them, there is always a BIG problem. Avoid DELTA! So what happened next was the most physically difficult part of the journey. Our plane started out being delayed which then turned into being canceled. We were suppose to be back in Syracuse at 2:30 p.m., but with the re-route through Detroit and a later plane we wouldn't arrive in Syracuse until 11:30 p.m. and that is if there where no further delays. I couldn't bear the idea of getting on another plane. Dad was really fading. I was getting increasingly worried about him, his blood pressure was already high, he was sick and he was beyond exhausted. I myself was in pretty rough shape, but I didn't have a choice, so I kept trying to problem solve. We decided we would do the crazy thing and rent a car to drive home. Now we are both going on 2 days without sleep, so this seemed a crazy solution, but I wasn't thinking properly and well, that's what we did. It took 2 HOURS for the airlines to find my bag. I think Dad was about to throw the towel in, he couldn't cope any longer and nor could I...but I kept trying. Just when I was about to say "screw the luggage" and leave, it appeared. We quickly and in a fog found our way to the rental car area. We needed to take the air train. Everything seemed difficult, processing was slow. I began to remember a program on television where they studied the effects of sleep deprivation on people and then gave them a battery of tests, I knew I would be failing right now. I still can't believe I made the decision to drive.
The cost of a one way rental to Ithaca was truly outrageous. I couldn't believe it, but it was the only choice we had at the moment, or at least the only one I could think of, so off we went. Dad was becoming impatient, I was becoming defensive. We had been excellent travel partners the entire trip, but now we were beginning to crumble to the sleep deprivation and the pressure. There would be moments of sadness beginning to overtake me as I thought about Junu. Being so tired, I was having difficulty keeping my mind in the right place. So I punched Dad's address into the GPS, he was impatient about this as well, but I didn't know where the hell I was going and no way could I even try to look at a map. Thank god for the GPS. We were off. Guess what time we left NYC???? Yep, 5 p.m. rush hour. I couldn't believe this was happening. I was now sucked into a see of red tail lights. My glasses were casting a reflection and I have no idea how I coped. My eyes were jumping, shifting and all over the place. My mind completely fuzzy. My motor skills slow. I was literally slapping my face, window down, up, down, slap, pray. I prayed God would guide us home, I need to see my daughter again. This was beyond difficult. Dad was already out of it. His head would just drop like a stone and he would be out. No head bob, just gone. I knew there was no other choice, so I just kept going and praying the whole while. Never have I felt such a physical challenge in all my life, never. After nearly 2 hours, we got out of the traffic and onto the highway. I really had to stop at this point. It was now beyond dangerous and I needed to rest. We stopped at a rest area, fueled up with pizza and a big ASS coffee. Dad said he was now ready to drive. Truth, neither of us were ready, but away we went. Dad drove for almost an hour and then he fell asleep, yep, out he was and I had to yell to wake him up before we went off the road. HOLY SHIT! I was awake now. I made him pull right over and I took the wheel and drove until we were just outside of Owego, then Dad ushered us the rest of the way home. God, music and an open window kept me awake. AMEN. We made it. I was never so happy to see Kim, my step mother. My father was over joyed to be home and I was happy he and I were safe. We told stories and I ate fresh oranges. Strangely I was now more awake than ever. I decided to make my way to home, despite my father's desire for me to stay. I truly was awake awake awake. So I drove home, no difficulty. Pulled into my home and took a great sigh. My dogs and cat were over joyed to see me and I them. HOME is so good.
Oddly, I couldn't sleep and proceeded to stay up the entire night until 6:30 a.m. Kimberly came down shortly after I arrived home, she couldn't wait, and we stayed up all night. I told her more stories, we shared details of the lifetime that occurred in just 2 weeks and then she left to take her kids to school. I finally showered and tucked myself into bed. Nighty night.
I am giving myself this weekend to get re calibrated and then it is full on busy organization to reconfigure my entire life. I am going back to Nepal, somehow, someway. I don't know yet how this will happen or how I will afford the additional costs with lawyers, current expenses and new expenses in Nepal, but I trust there is a way. I have already been blessed by the generosity and caring of many people. I have been given financial support to get a lawyer, which is most important right now. I will take each day at a time and I will do my best to honor and trust. Thank you everyone who has shared this journey with me and to those of you who will continue to be part of this next phase. I am learning to put pride aside and accept help. Perhaps this is part of my lesson. I tend to wear a marter badge that says "I can do it on my own". I have always been fiercely independent, but I am learning this doesn't always serve me or my highest self. I am learning and am thankful for all of your love and support. You are teaching me so much. Many blessings. I will continue to share the beautiful stories that continue to unfold, because this story is only at the beginning. I LOVE LOVE LOVE you all. Sharlyn