Two and a half years ago I sat in Chelsea’s quaint backyard in NE (that’d be my DC quadrant-talk resurfacing) speculating on future travel plans. I was set to leave the beltway in a few weeks and transfer my suitcases to sunny southern California – the first of several major moves in the upcoming years.
Goodbyes can be difficult, particularly with no future reunion planned and eagerly anticipated. Chelsea was one of my dearest friends in DC and leaving felt a bit like abandonment, like forfeiting the game we’d both signed up for. But the future has a way of pulling us precisely where we’re meant to travel, and goodbyes are simply a folding of the cards as a new hand is drawn.
On that sticky summer day I first expressed my underlying feeling of uncertainty regarding my eventual move to Lesotho. The move itself was a non-issue; the thrill of adventure saw to that.
“I have no way of knowing how I will react when the first baby dies,” I told her.
Chelsea looked at me curiously. “Of course not,” she said, “but you’ll take it one day at a time. Like you always do.”
For the past week I have followed that sage advice. The shock arrived on Thursday, amid a workday that had already left me floundering. That morning Lipuo had gone from bright and babbling to deathly ill, an inexplicable catalyst that claimed her life in a matter of hours. Only the day before she had been crawling to my lap, using my body to pull herself up, laughing in my face, and spouting off a string of incoherent sounds that most certainly made sense on some other universal plane.
It is not her death itself that hurts; it is the injustice of her loss. After months of progress in the TTL Safe Home, Lipuo was nearly ready to return to her family. Jenn and I had remarked just the week before on how astonishing was her transformation. “She’s a different person from when I first arrived,” I had said, flipping through before and after photos on my computer. How could someone so filled with life be snatched away so quickly, with a final, official diagnosis of wedonotknow-sis? Why was her fate left to chance after so much hard work telling chance to wait its turn?
Since Thursday I have taken it one day at a time – clinging to routine, to normalcy, to balance, to solid ground. At least I can put to rest the concern I aired so long ago in the calm comfort of Chelsea’s backyard.
“I have no way of knowing how I will react when the second baby dies,” I now say to myself. “Of course not,” Chelsea would tell me, “but you’ll take it one day at a time. Like you always do.”