They just kept coming. I couldn’t shut them off.
We rang in New Year’s with some dear friends and then headed “home,” the place we had just moved to the day before. I dropped into bed, boing, boing. I sank so low into the old, spring mattress that I could barely maneuver my now larger than life self around. That’s when they started. That uncomfortable, worn out mattress was the last straw and the tears began to flow.
There were no pillows. We couldn’t find sheets to fit the bed. Everything was unfamiliar.
The only “home” I’ve known since getting married is in Malakal, a war zone. My lovely queen size bed is in Malakal, my sheets too. My husband’s zip off trousers are in Malakal. My pottery tea set and 6 or so other trunks are in Malakal.
These are just things. But they are things I find myself grieving for. They represent home. They represent friends gained and friends lost.
Now, those things, represent a life of uncertainty.
My grief continued to spill down my face the entire first day of the New Year. I grieved for my friends facing horrific circumstances. I grieved for the town I had grown to love and my adopted country. I grieved the stability I had known was lost and yes, I grieved for my things.
I grieved that God would call us to such a volatile country. I grieved that we still feel our place is in South Sudan, even with all the serious issues it faces. I grieved that my yet to be born child might have to face all these things and more.
In fact I think that uncomfortable, worthless, old bed released tears I’d been holding in the entire year. Tears of leaving behind family…again. Tears for constantly saying goodbye to friends, new and old. Tears for missing major milestones. Tears of frustration over the difficulty of learning Arabic, of fitting into a new culture, of learning how to cook over charcoal, of taking buckets baths and not feeling clean. Tears of helplessness as bugs invaded my home and being confined to my mosquito net after dark.
Yes, there have been many good, even great, moments over the last year. But these moments were interspersed with less joyful moments. I tried to stand strong for too long, “outlawing my grief” and I finally crumbled.
My things are still in Malakal. South Sudan is still at war. My future is still uncertain. And no I am not ok with any of it. But that, in and of itself, is ok.