Two Things and One to Come

With R away in Uganda, I’m doing my best to keep the household from falling apart. I’ve managed to keep the boys clean and well fed and they haven’t been late for school or missed any of their soccer, swimming or martial arts lessons. I’m remaining diligent with all the daily tasks at home, even with my broken wrist, and so far I’m not feeling overwhelmed by the extra work. I’m happy that R is able to have this experience in Uganda, so it’s all worth it.

On Day 5 of 15, however, I’ve noticed two challenges. First, it’s quite difficult to run outside unless I do this before picking up the kids from school. Second, I get lonely when I’m not able to talk with R. The first challenge isn’t a huge deal, especially for a two-week period. I don’t feel safe running on our treadmill with my broken wrist (I often have to grab onto the rails when I need to adjust the speed or stop), so I’ve just accepted that I will be running much less than usual during this time (even taking days off completely). The latter challenge is becoming more significant as the days go on. I was surprised by the number of times I automatically tried to phone R today. She’s the first person I reach out to when I have news to share and need to either vent or cheer about something happening in my life. I also miss her physical presence around the house, particularly in the evenings, which is when we usually take a break from the busyness of our day to sit and chat and spend time together.

Within the next few days, a third challenge will emerge that will trump the other two. This will come when the boys get tired of counting down the nights that remain until their mother returns and decide that she needs to be home now. I got a glimpse of that this evening, so I know it’s coming soon. Thankfully she left us some video messages on my phone, so I can use those to allay their sadness.

Standard

Skipping

On Sunday afternoon, R is leaving for Uganda, where she’ll be volunteering in the north for two weeks to support internally displaced persons and refugees. She’s upstairs right now packing everything that she will need for her trip. The boys are having a sleepover with their cousin at their grandparents’ house, so this is a free night for the two us to hang out together.

I skipped my run this evening so that we could walk along the boardwalk at the beach while we ate ice cream and walked the dog. And now I’m about to skip writing my daily blog post so that I can go help her pack. Does writing a blog post about not writing a blog post count as a real blog post? Doesn’t matter…

Standard

Fearful Courage

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”—Emma Donoghue

Ten years ago this month, R and I visited a friend in Lubumbashi, which is the second-largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lubumbashi is also the mining capital of the country, and has its own small airport. I was excited to visit because they had Western food items in their markets such as Nutella and chocolate that we could bring back with us to Zimbabwe.

One morning when our friend was at work, R and I went for a walk to visit the national museum. Along the way, we were stopped by soldiers who said that we had broken the law by stepping on their grass. They grabbed R and escorted her into their compound. Having heard some horrific stories about the treatment of women by Congolese soldiers, I was immediately concerned for R’s safety. I managed to block the gate door from closing by sticking my foot into a small gap and then squeezed the rest of my body into the doorway.

The soldiers appeared drunk and carried rifles, so I did my best to be as assertive as possible without coming across aggressively. I told the soldiers that R needed to stay with me and asked them to release her. Since R’s French was much better than mine, she also told them repeatedly that we could not be separated. I’ve never been more scared in my life or as quick to pray to God for help.

I’m not sure whether the soldiers were just playing games with us or they simply changed their minds about taking R, but eventually they let us leave the compound together without further incident. Hours later, my heart was still pounding feverishly. Even a decade later, the memory remains vivid and intense.

It’s possible to be fearful and brave simultaneously; they’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, far too many people in the world must embody some form of fearful courage every day in order to survive their personal circumstances and environment.

Standard