It's our second week back in South Africa and I'm starting to get back into the routine of things, that is to say, my mind is slowly catching up with my body. I'm over jet lag and the worst of my culture shock has passed. There's a lingering disconnect, though, that's been following me around.
A day or two after we returned we found out that a friend of ours had died. Samuel was a hard worker who had the hugest smile and the whitest teeth. We waved to each other every single day, and when he needed medicine he sometimes came to us. There's an empty spot now when I drive by and he's not there to wave and smile. That emptiness is heavy.
This week I found out that the husband of one of my friends is dying. There's nothing - apart from a miracle - that can be done for him, and she is wondering how to tell her 7-year-old daughter. I feel so helpless talking to her. I want so much to DO something... make it better... fix it. There aren't always words to comfort, though. Sometimes all we can do is listen and cry with our friends.
The reality of South Africa is different than the reality of the United States. Death is very much a part of life here. It's raw and gritty and in your face week after week after week like an annoying neighbour who won't leave you alone. It keeps knocking on your door at the most inopportune times.
I wasn't ready for this so soon, but then, is anyone?