I felt the deep ache of a broken heart today.
I suspect there’s a cure — the elixir of time perhaps — but that’s what I’m most afraid of. I’m scared that time will cure this ache.
I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to stop remembering. That would cost me too much.
It’s been eight days that I’ve been home. Eight days since the nose of the jet turned north. Eight days since the tin shacks and tents on hillsides grew smaller and smaller from the window next to my first-class seat.
It’s been eight days since I crossed their thresholds. I remember how I took off my shoes at one of their doors — an old habit — only to find bare dirt when my toes met the kitchen floor.
And when you do a thing like that — when you cross a threshold — there’s no turning back. I have real friends there. Last night, when I heaped steaming squares of lasagna onto plates, I wondered if my Haitian friends ate at all.
After dinner, I scraped half-eaten pasta into the garbage. I tried not to let guilt have its way. In fact, I had vowed that I wouldn’t trade grace for guilt. I pledged that I wouldn’t come home and berate myself for being born in America.
But I can’t help but notice I have enough food in my cupboards and freezers to feed our family for months.
And I can’t help but ache for friends. I miss them. I know how their hands feel in mine. I know what it feels like to press my cheek next to theirs while mugging for a silly photograph.
I miss the touch, the holding out of a hand to touch the curve of a face. I miss the laughing, and her silly hat, and the way we called each other “fou,” the Haitian-Creole word for “crazy.”
My, how we laughed.
I miss how — even though we couldn’t speak a lick of each other’s language — we were fluent in love.
I miss real people.
I’m afraid that if it’s true what they say — that time heals all wounds — I’ll stop hurting. I’ll stop missing them. I’ll be cured.
I can’t afford that.
It’s 3:45 p.m. and I feel the trickle of tears down my cheeks. I wonder: what if I never go back again? Selfishly, I want to. But what if God said “no”?
I wipe a palm across my wet cheek.
Like flowers, would the bloom of memory eventually fade? Someone, please, tell me it won’t?
I remember that a wise friend, Ann Voskamp, had written about the ache of her own return from a mission trip. At 3:50, I Google the words: “Ann Voskamp Guatemala.”
She knows. She knows! She wrote:
“I miss the fresh bruising of my heart and I miss the witnessing, the ways the eyes feel when they are seeing for real, and I miss children and volunteers and love and I miss the way her smile curved and opened the lid right off the world. Like we were changing the world.
I miss being so close to help I could hold out my hand.”
At 4 p.m., the tears roll, in steady rivulets down my face. I change my Facebook status: “I feel a deep ache in my heart right now. I am pretty sure it’s the part that got broken off … that part of me that I left back in Haiti.”
I don’t want the flower to fade. I want it to bloom, ever-bloom.
And then the doorbell rang. And rang. And rang and rang.
The girls! They were home from school. And their mama was crying. I found my smile again, brushed away a tear, and opened the door to this:
The promise of ever-blooming grace
upon yellowing grace…
And then I cried some more. And can I just tell you? They were the happiest tears.
The photos of the ViBella women from Haiti were taken by professional photographer Teresa Blankers, of ViBella. I traveled with with ViBella to Haiti. You can read more about this great ministry and business here. Follow ViBella on Pinterest here.
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