So it’s been a while, mostly because these past few weeks have felt so strange. Like being underwater, but I’m finally coming up for air. I definitely never expected to go home for a week during this 4 month internship. I also never expected to lose a family member while down here. And though my time in the States was spent amongst memorial preparations, it was so sweet. The moments spent with family were some I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. I am thankful and my heart is so full.
Yet, because of the incredible visit home, getting on the plane to return to the Dominican left me aching. It was a much more difficult adjustment this time than in August. Sure, I know what I’m doing in the classroom. I know my students’ names. But I came in the midst of a school week navigating loss, reminded of all the family time I will miss, and that was more difficult than I can put into words.
Between two hurricanes and an unexpected death, this has been so much more than I expected. I don’t even know how to describe it, so “more” will have to do. It has been more difficult, more challenging, more emotionally draining. But amidst the hardship, it has also been more humbling, more freeing, more eye-opening. There is peace, even in the hard days. There is pain, even on the good days.
And despite the aching I might feel in this season, the questions I have for God, I see my kids and am filled with joy. They are brilliant and beautiful and full of so much life. Each one has so much to offer. On my hardest days, seeing their smiles keeps me going. There is overwhelming joy: when they clutch my hand, when they climb on my back, when they chatter in Spanish. And I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for their little lives. Because who would have thought my students would be the teachers? But every day, they are teaching me. How to love bigger, laugh more, and find the joy in every day.
I would be lying to say that it’s easy to live here. It’s not. I never expected it to be easy, but there was a part of me that was more carefree about the move, more flippant. Death makes everything feel so permenant, gives weight to even the smallest of things. So I try every day to make it through to the next. Some days are joyful, and some are painful.
But this is life. The bitter and sweet coexist beautifully and God has orchestrated this time to be both for me. It’s fitting that I felt a prompting to re-read one of my favorite books, Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist weeks before the hurricanes and my grandfather’s passing.
“Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.”
God is good,even when it hurts.
I’m learning how to be okay in the messy seasons. To not run away or pitch (too many) fits. To wrestle with God without becoming bitter towards Him. And it’s SO DANG HARD. But it’s also beautiful. So for now, I am here but not here. Home is two places at once. Family defined by both blood and kinship.
Thy will be done.