Three, and then Four

As I sit down to compose my blog this week, I realize that in exactly three weeks time, I will be sitting at the airport to catch my first of many flights home. Time is moving fast. That’s mostly a good thing right now because time was moving unbearably slow in May. Then, it felt like such a long time until we would be home.

I know that our trip will be fast and furious, and bittersweet - knowing that we will have to say goodbye once more. At the same time, I’m also thinking about our remaining 5 months here and what that will look like. John and I will be sharing some duties, as we welcome two new volunteers into our lives here. 

Earlier today, John and I were joking about how we will share the volunteer home with others: it will be hard at times for my husband the introvert. He joked that if he needs space, he will just have to go hang out in the ‘mushroom hut’ outside our front door. Seriously, though, we want to be intentional about welcoming the new volunteers in our lives and living in community in a new way. I think it will be a good transition for us. We are fairly isolated in our lives here, and it has only been a community of two for almost a year. It will be really good to expand on that. Yet we will also need to strike that balance to find time for ourselves individually and as a couple.

This week Hands of Hope held a memorial for the producer who passed away from cancer a couple of months ago. There is a memorial stone and mini-garden for each person who has passed away from Hands of Hope. There were three, and now there are four.

As our short memorial was in progress (which involved Sr. Pranee and Antonia saying a few thoughts and prayers and then everyone bestowing a fresh flower and incense on the memorial garden), a butterfly flitted around the new site. It couldn’t help but remind me of his light-hearted spirit and warm smile. 

As I was massaging another producer at Hands of Hope the following day, she mentioned that she doesn’t like to see another memorial in the garden. I agree. It’s really tough. And I don’t have the added burden of living with HIV/AIDS personally and knowing that the likelihood of my lifespan to be shortened is higher. 

One of my favorite people here. She said it was okay to share her photo with y'all.

I’m also really grateful to my husband this year. He is good at encouraging me to let go of things that are beyond my control. A few of the current/former patients don’t always make the best choices - a few smoke, a couple drank alcohol excessively, one or two made the choice not to be near their young children. It’s really hard to see at times, and I have had to work through some anger. John continually reminds me that you don’t know each person’s background; perhaps the mother who doesn’t want to be near her child is affected by her history of being a victim of domestic abuse. 

Another person (let’s call her Charlie) who works overnight duty was talking about how frustrated she was by a patient’s behavior. I tried to gently remind her that we can’t control how other people live. Although Charlie knows firsthand how well people with HIV/AIDS are treated here (after traveling to many parts of Thailand as an HIV/AIDS patient herself), she can’t force that knowledge on someone else. Nor can I - in my moments of anger and frustration. 

The fish pond is filling up! Compare the difference that 10 days can make.

Right now, I’m (mostly) looking forward to one of our last quiet weekends at the Garden (which will be done & over with by the time you read this). I’m not looking forward to the cleaning that we have been putting off this week, but I am looking forward to:

  • a bike ride with John (as long as it’s not raining)
  • quiet hours on the internet
  • rolling out of bed to stumble over and Skype with my parents… It’s so much closer now that we have internet in the Garden proper!
  • buying and consuming frozen pizza… We are sick of eating rice for dinner every night. It’s not the same as pizza back home, but it does the trick fairly well.