The next day of meetings started out normally enough. We started with two more devotions. Note for future meetings - don't do two devotions back to back. It sounds funny. Rather one in the morning and one after lunch. But this day, our director for the whole country had also joined us. We were a big crowd all together!
The day started off with the other wife beginning to share. This was where she cried and someone told her not to be so emotional. I should have got a hint from that comment, but I did not hear it.
Then it was my turn to share. I did not get emotional and cry. That is just not me in a big group. But I shared what had gone on over here. I shared about the people who came to help, the calls I got, the help I received. I shared about what had been asked of me during the crisis and what that was like to do that job. I shared details that would help others who had to do that job another time. I shared how the experience went. Just telling the story.
After my turn, we had other members of the team share. They told their stories and a few of them said what was so wonderful during the whole event was how much they were there for each other and how much they supported each other through it all.
I quietly got up and walked out. I walked as far away as one could get in the building and shut the door of the small room I went to. I was shaking, in tears.
During the whole time, NO ONE from our team came to visit me. Not one.
Ok, to clarify, we belong to a small team, like tadpoles in a puddle. My husband is the leader of this puddle. We have a bigger team leader who is the leader of a few puddles. My husband is his assistant sort of, second down in charge of a few puddles. Then we are all part of a bigger organization. Someone from the bigger organization who lives near us did come to see me. They really helped me with anything I needed. I remain very grateful to them for their support during all this. Without them, I would not have survived as well as I did.
But they are not from our little puddle. From our team, no one came. Well, I take that back - we have a new comer, a new family. They haven't been here that long, and they were gone during the first half of the events. But as soon as they arrived back in town, they phoned. They came over on the last day, knocking on my door just to come be with me. I appreciated that so much.
But of the team that we have been a part of for seven years, no one came.
I could not sit there in that meeting and listen to them talk about how great it was to be a community and support each other during the crisis. I walked away before the tears started.
I felt so left out. Did they not even care? I have been there for them for every crisis, every emergency, every complication in their lives.... where were they?
So I shut the door in the back room and stood shaking, not yet able to cry. Hurt. Then the door opened again. It was my husband. He walked over, wrapped his arms around me, and held me tight. He let me sob against him, and understood what I said through all the sobbing and tears..."they never came! not once!". He understood all the past, the seven years, and what that meant to me.... they left me in pain and ignored me.
I still don't understand it at all. The afternoon later on showed some reasons, but the reasons were as hard to hear as the facts. I still don't understand.
But my husband held me for a long time while I cried and cried. Then he left to go have lunch. I stayed for awhile to calm down before going back into the room. On the way back in, I sat quietly at a spare computer reading mail, and our country director stopped by. He just stood quietly at the desk, and then said, "I know we placed a big burden on you in asking you to do what you did, and I wanted to tell you thank-you for doing it." I assured him that I hadn't minded the job and had thoroughly understood why it had to be handed to me. He stood quietly a little longer with me, and so I told him. "It is just that they are talking about how great it was to be there for each other during the event, and no one was there for me. No one, except the new guys, came to see me." He listened, but like me, had no answers. There really still are no answers for that. Just pain.
I think what was hard for me and what hurt almost as bad as the whole crisis were these things. It was when life slowed down enough to realize that no one came... that they abandoned me when I needed help. It was when we were criticized for our decision to be together with the "other couple" for a few days first. It was when we were disturbed that first night and criticized for not calming everyone else's fears and comforting their questions that first day or so. It was how our own treated us that hurt.
But this was a shadow compared to what was going to come after lunch. That was when the sharks attacked and the water ran red.