Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Replacement

Several weeks ago, a dear friend of mine came to visit and say goodbye. As a fellow PCV, she was asking me about how I was feeling about leaving soon... and bless her heart for asking, but everything just spilled out at once. Vocalizing the things that I knew made the feelings that much more real, and so, I cried with her as I told this story. 

This helps to explain the difficulty in me leaving. 

* * * * * 

Before any PCV arrives at their new site, the organization they are placed with is required to help secure proper housing. The nurse-in-charge at my clinic desperately wanted a PCV, but there was no clinic housing available. Because of this, she had to find private housing and asked her family if they would be willing to rent their house for two years. Lucky for me, they agreed, and I was scheduled to arrive on June 12, 2012. 

Well, one week before my arrival, the woman who owned the house, Monica, passed away. They had the funeral for her the weekend before I arrived. I was unaware of the death until weeks later, leaving me bright-eyed and excited about moving in with a family. I did what I know best: I just loved. And played. And shared. I became a part of their family, slowly but surely. 
me in front of my house
I was new and exciting to them. I was something that distracted them. And together, we grew as a family. 

After learning about Monica's death, I asked the family what she was like. She was young (I think late 40's early 50's?), loved the kids, was very active, and missed by everyone. She sounded like a wonderful ray of sunshine, and I felt so grateful to be living with the family she loved so dearly. 

Then ever so gradually over the two years, I became the replacement. The replacement daughter. The replacement sister. The replacement auntie. The replacement mother. 
some of my beautiful family
I filled the gap - however imperfectly - for each of them, in some capacity. 

My granny calls me her daughter - and boasts to everyone about how much she loves me and how much I help her. My sisters share their life stories with me - asking me for advice along the way. My kiddos come knocking on my door each day - Bula boitshepo (open the door, boitshepo!)... wanting to play. 

And now, after two delightful, yet challenging years, I've left them in Kang with the house empty for the first time. My sister sent me a message saying, "U cum nd make us proud nd I forget the loss of mi mum,,,now is hurting me".

The house is finally empty, and I'm moving on to a new chapter of my life. The Peace Corps has been everything I wanted it to be and more...

* * * * *

This morning was rough, to say the least. I left tears on everyone's shoulders. Granny wiped the tears from my eyes, my kiddos held my hands and walked me to the clinic, and I was sincerely touched by everyone who came to see me off. We all smiled at each other through our tears.
my little humans
And little Romeo was the last to give me a hug - - and he says in my ear, "Boitshepo, Ke batago doga." (I want to go with you.) While tears streamed down my face, I gave him another hug and kiss, then said, "Tshameka, ni ni. Ke da go go bona kgantele. Teboga!" (Go and play, ni ni. I will see you later. Run!) And with that, he took off smiling and running to catch up with the rest of the family.

I'll see you all again soon, I promise.
You're all a part of me. 
Boitshepo o le rata lotlhe. 
Sala sentle, ritsala tsame. 

Love & Light, 

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