We spent a few days with family. The days were filled with shopping, discussions over what to buy, what to cook, what to eat, and where to go on holiday. If we weren't talking about that, we talked about what we bought, what we cooked, what we ate, and where we went on holiday. All in two different languages that I had to struggle to keep up in! Still it was good to be there - to sit with them, to let them see us.
And here, I began to sleep. My sleep was still filled with nightmares, and I woke often with my heart thudding in my chest, but I would drift back into sleep again. I covered myself with heavy blankets which kept me warm and gave me a sense of security and slept. I slept at least ten hours every night and napped in the day. That was a welcome break.
During the whole time, the event was rarely mentioned. Once there was a fight about it.... which saddened me. People fighting because they had strong emotions and needed to be heard, but without being heard, they began to yell at each other. So quietly, over the next few days, I tried to listen to the few I could. My sister-in-law was furious, but when I got her alone and acknowledged that she had been terrified, she began to cry. She told me how frightened she had felt and now how that fear carried over into all sorts of things... what if she had an accident on the road and her baby was killed? What if they got some terrible disease? These things happen like lightening striking, and what can you do?!
How do you answer someone who has no God? She no hope, nothing. I shared with her again how we prayed and God answered, and told her I will pray for her. Then I asked her about her friend's baby - the one that looked like it would be completely brain damaged because of the trauma at birth. Her face brightened and she shook her head in confusion as she said, "He is actually doing well! It is amazing, but he is making eye contact and holding up his head and eating like any normal baby. I mean, he may still have some learning problems in school, but he seems pretty normal!" My heart did a little dance inside me (Thank-you God!) and I told her I had asked my friends to pray and we had been praying for this little boy.
That was all we had together - just a few minutes in the kitchen stirring pots, but it was something.
I had a few minutes with my mother-in-law. Sitting drinking coffee while others shopped, I yawned. She smiled and asked if I was tired. I said that I was - that all the stress the last weeks has made me tired. She shuddered and said it was hard for her, too. That she couldn't eat for days when she found out and was so worried. We sat quietly and drank coffee together. After a silence, I told her that we can thank God that they are safe. She agreed. Then she smiled at me and said, "You should come again to visit. Just come alone sometime and spend a week here with me." I told her that it sounded wonderful, and maybe I would bring my daughter so we can just have a "girl's time". I hope to be able to do that next year.
Connecting in small moments with them. Hearing their stress. That was what made that time special. Being able to tell the few, "I see you."
I was also thankful for the hours of sleep I got. Sleep, food, and more sleep. With no way to unpack my emotions over the next month or so, I began to sleep a lot. I still tire easily today and sleep more than I normally would.
But, endless shopping, partying, crowds, and discussions on what to buy or cook tired me out. When it came time to go home, there were two ways for me to go. One was to go from here and the other was to return to where we had come from to go from there. My husband had to leave from here. It was the way his ticket worked. But I had a choice.
I chose to go back. It would mean one more afternoon with my friends - the other ones who had gone through this with us. It would also mean a few hours of a quiet trip all alone to where they were. Right then, I would love a few hours of solitude! So I said goodbye to the family and left early in the morning.
I carried only my small backpack. I love traveling light, and smile when I see others struggling with huge suitcases... oh, I've done it, too, on moves; but unless I am moving, I travel very light! Life is so easy without baggage! But I was still carrying invisible baggage - my bucketful of unshed tears and my box of packed up emotions.
The quiet ride was a chance to rest from holding this heavy load and trying to smile. At least alone, I could set them down by my feet and stare out the windows in quiet thought.