My host mom lost her brother while I was away in Tbilisi this past weekend. It’s hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving, but it’s even harder to know what to say to someone when you literally don’t know the words. I wish I could tell her I know what that pain feels like; it’s that heart wrenching, all body encompassing kind of pain, that makes you bend over sobbing, clutching the table, wanting to pound on the floor until it breaks.
I run into her crying sometimes: when I get up at night to get water from the fridge, or when I walk in quickly from the garden and she’s sitting in a chair, silent, but with tears streaming down her face.
And it makes me so angry that her husband isn’t there beside her.
Then again, sometimes it’s nice to be alone.
I wish I could take away that hurt for her, but I know nothing but time will help.
She’s such a strong woman. Cooking for us all, working all the time, and now she wears black all the time in this heat, night and day. I’m worried she’s going to have a heat stroke.
I wish I could give her this poem. I remember reading it one night, on one of those nights when I was thinking of my dad. For some reason it just helped. And it didn’t help as in it made everything better. It didn’t make me stop crying; maybe it didn’t even help at all, but it did something. Because for a moment after reading it I felt something other than that pain I had been feeling for such a long time: that emptiness that I had been feeling, that was turning into a dull ache where my breast bone was, disappeared if but for a second. That throbbing twinge in my throat eased up and I could take in just one, easy breath.
If I could translate this poem so it could mean what it meant to me, I would do that in a heartbeat. But grief hits us all differently. That I know only too well.
I hope my being here hasn’t put an extra burden on her, and instead seeing me brightens her day, just like seeing her brightens my day. She’s the one person I look forward to speaking with, laughing with, drinking tea with, etc.
My heart goes out to her and the rest of her family in Russia, Mtskheta, and Tsinandali.
It’s never easy to be left standing when someone you love leaves.
This is one of those times when I think about what Peace Corps has taught me. It’s taught me how to try and show empathy when I’m at loss for words, how to listen, how to be patient when all I want to do is try to explain how I feel. Peace Corps isn’t just about teaching English, writing grants, or digging wells. It’s about getting to know humans and what others have gone through. It’s about learning, and being taught, not just doing the teaching.
Makvala has taught me so much in the few months that I’ve been here. It is my hope that by the time I leave here, I’ll have done something worthy enough to have earned so much of her praise and generosity.
And while this may be a somewhat sad post, it’s also a happy post.
Colin’s family came to visit this weekend and we got to enjoy some comforts of home… like nice food.
We took them around Tbilisi and then we took the 2 and half hour ride to Kazbegi. It’s known for its gorgeous mountains. And wow was it beautiful.
While in Tbilisi we went to the “Dry Bridge”, which is basically a flea market. His mom and dad, I think, really enjoyed it.
The ride to Kazbegi wasn’t too bad, but I don’t think Colin’s family appreciated it too much. There’s a little church about a 50 minute drive up hill from the hotel that we stayed at, and 2 hour hike (we decided to take the taxi).
We stayed at the Rooms Hotel and that place was amazing. I might be so used to Georgia that, now anything is nice, but, really. It was nice.
But. I’m exhausted. And happy to be back in my little village now with Bimbi, Makvala, and Emzari. Just a couple more weeks here and then I’ll be off on one last adventure before school starts (not counting a training in Borjomi!).