Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Please Thank-You Bye

"Please Thank you. Bye."  - Graham, Age 2

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Yesterday, after an emotionally charged 6 days back on Haitian soil, I finally snapped.  

It was a bit of a dramatic scene.  I will take the long way around to arrive at the climax (snap) of this story. 

Let us start at the beginning...

I flew away from the Texas crew and the brand new grand baby on January ninth. (He is therapy I tell you - calm, snuggly, and sssoooo delish - If I sat with him in the sunshine forever, I'd not need my counselor ever again.) 

I left my personal agent, the laundry folding, dish washing, and toddler-wrangling, Isaac there to do all the things I would do if I could remain in Texas longer.  

Isaac was trained and ready for the job.  

We had discussed the idea of seeing what needs to be done and saying to your head, "Okay head with eyes, look around at Paige's house - what can I see that needs to be done without anyone telling me to do it."  

It is possible with (some) children to teach them that dishes can be done without your mother and/or father telling you to do them.
Uncle Ike the Toddler Wrangler

I left Austin and landed in Atlanta where my friend Keight greeted me with wine and a corkscrew and put me to bed in a freezing cold room.  The next morning she took me to have Atlanta-famous grits and some bacon.

After breakfast with Keight and a ride in her truly luxurious car, I headed home to Haiti.  (You guys - Some people have more personal belongings and crap in their car than they have in their house. But her house burned down last year so maybe she keeps stuff in the car to keep it safe.)

On these flights I wear a baseball hat. I keep my head down. I try not to talk to anyone because I am INSANE inside myself in these moments of leaving half my heart behind. 

My body language on the airplane must scream obscenities to everyone around me because I am truly just trying to deal with all my feelings. 

Talking to someone about short term missions or what they are going to go do in Haiti or about the lack of infrastructure ("the roads! CAN YOU BELIEVE THE flippin ROADS?!") in Haiti might make my head pop off and roll all the way down the aisle of Delta Flight 685. 

If someone on said Delta flight reads me wrong and kindly and politely asks, "What do you do in Haiti",  I try to come up with a one word response that will put a stop to any potential follow up question.  

"Survive" is a trusty go-to response.  

It is not that I am always such a grouch - it is just that on transition day, I cannot do small talk. Cannot. Will not. 

Here is the deal, when I need to switch gears between the life and family in America and the life and family in Haiti, there almost always tends to be transmission or clutch failure. 

Gear shifting is not smooth on the roads of my life. 

I assume only robots transition without tears and drama, and a robot I am not. 

I arrive home to Port au Prince where Troy knows that if he is not at the airport on time I will probably lose my shit and cry ugly tears.  

Troy takes me immediately to a place where we can decompress and tell each other everything about everything we missed in two weeks of separation.  (In this case that place is the UN base where loud helicopters and airplanes interrupt our conversation every ten minutes, but beggars cannot be choosers in this city and you get what you get.) 

On our way to the UN base I spot a huge rainbow and think, "Oh, look at this, Jesus is reminding me I'm probably gonna be okay."  I ask Troy to get a photo of the rainbow but immediately I know Troy's photo is going to suck, so I pop my head out of the car to get my own rainbow photo. During the perfect capture of the rainbow behind the cement wall with the barbed wire on top, my baseball hat flies off and rolls behind us into traffic.  

Troy, the expert at stupid-Tara-things, pulls over and parks the truck so he can run into traffic to get my baseball hat back.

(You know what ?? - The rainbow behind the wall is sort of perfect imagery for the feelings of transition. There is hope and the promise of peace available - but it is not something you can just reach out a touch - or photograph, as it were. It's there -- but hidden behind walls and wire.) 

When we arrive at the restaurant I tell him about my trip and the people I saw and many things about Isaac, and Paige, and Britt. I tell him about the Tex-Mex I ate. I tell him how the bank sent our debit cards to an address from years ago and how I tried to pay all the medical bills from this summer but stopped short of the goal.  I tell him about the large amount of cash I have on me to pay our rent. He tells me how the kids he was in charge of are doing and who got fired and who threatened to put curses on him and who was amazing and did beautiful work and what appliances are broken at home and what we have on the calendar in the days ahead.

After our official decompress sesh we head home to see the broken appliances and the excited kids.  

No matter how often I go see the big girls and grandsons in Texas, there is always pandemonium and happy kids to greet me upon my return.  I do not tire of this part of the transition. 

Please. Thank you. Bye.

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Wednesday (my first day home), Phoebe had her own epic melt down. Too much emotion, too much puberty, too much of too much. It was one of those melt downs where at the end she feels so much better but all the rest of us felt like we'd just been beaten badly by Mike Tyson.  As I unpacked I cried for Phoebe and for me.  

Wednesday night we had a flood in our downstairs bathroom that spilled into the bedroom next to it.

Thursday we had a busy Prenatal day at the Maternity Center. To list all the things and situations in an average Thursday would take many hours of writing and explaining. It is intense every week.  

Thursday night we had a flood in our downstairs bathroom. 

Friday we had a busy birth control day and did ultra sounds and had a birth in the afternoon. 

Friday night Troy got the snake stuck in the walls/plumbing trying to fix the problem. 

Saturday the 13 year old that lives a few house down went into labor.  She knocked on our gate early in the morning. Her story is so painful and unfair and watching her suffer in order to give birth to a baby she did not ask for or feel ready to have was emotionally intense. We prayed non stop asking God to help the baby come  quickly and allow at least the physical pain to be done.  After the birth we cried when she would not look at her baby girl, but we understood.  Healing requires time. 

Saturday night, another baby was born to an older and very prepared Mom. 

Sunday the kids came to work with me for the post-partum shift and we hung out with the three moms and their baby girls. The baby girls were all named and we got to help choose two of the names. 

Isabelle - Sophia - Lelia 

Yesterday, I woke up grieving.  

I hate when I don't get to control the timing of my grief.  How do you WAKE UP sad? Sleep is supposed to heal sadness. So dumb! I felt sad about everything (some things mentioned here - some things not mentioned here). I dropped KJ off at the airport and tried not to melt down yet.  

When I got home a visitor to Haiti was at our house giving the new puppy a haircut. She taught me how to do a better job with the Chestnut and Walnut grooming. I needed the coaching.

Troy informed me the "plumber" (this term is very loosely applied) had arrived and that the bathroom tile would need be smashed up in order to find the problem and fix the flooding and plumbing issue.  

After the haircut was finished and it was just our family at home, I had an epic meltdown about the tile in the bathroom.  

It was as if all the other things were small, but having the bathroom smashed up was the biggest deal in the whole damn universe.  "I wanted it to be nice when my parents got here" - "I have been redoing that bathroom and it finally looked really cute" - "I put a freakin chandelier in the bathroom that now has smashed walls" - "The world is ending!!!" THE SKY IS FALLING. This will never be okay.

Troy just sits quietly and watches me, as if making a move or saying anything might cause an earthquake or some other natural disaster. 

lighting to accompany smashed walls

this is BEFORE the actual smashing started

In the afternoon after I had finished giving a tour and checking in at the Maternity Center, I decided that I needed to take control of my life.  I do this by moving furniture around.  It heals me.  

Noah and I rearranged the family room together and took charge of our lives.  Doing something to control something that will actually allow me to control it is my therapy.  My living room looks perfect right now.  

The over-reaction and tears have passed for the time being. 

My parents will come in to visit on Thursday and they will still notice that I have a lovely light fixture in the torn up bathroom and everyone will keep inhaling and exhaling and life will in fact - go on.  There are real problems and the bathroom doesn't even make the list.   Down the street from here a 13 year old is trying to bond to a baby that is the product of an assault. She needs to head back to school soon after missing the first half of this school year.


I cannot wrap that ending up nicely.  

Please. Thank you. Bye.

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Long before we had drop down menus and computer prompts, we had Mom prompts. Whomever designed the prompt systems on websites and apps must have had a Mom. 

Their experience with Mom taught them how to be intuitive and predict the next prompt needed.

I just spent two weeks in Texas listening in on Paige as she provided the ORIGINAL prompts to her two year old son.

"What do you say, Graham? What do you say?" 

She must say it thirty-million times per day.

Typically she wants to prompt him for a 'please' or a needed 'sorry' or maybe even a thank-you.

One day she said, "What do you say, Graham??!!"- in a bit of a commanding and irritated Mom voice.

Graham looked her in the eye and said as fast as he could, 
"PLEASE -THANK-YOU - BYE!" - He ran off to play.