When I wasn’t tearing up or crying, I had a lump in my throat most of my last Saturday in Zim. I barely held it together as I took one last trip to the grocery store, walking through the aisles in search of the perfect bargains to stretch my money as far as it would go for what I dreaded since we decided to move out of the country: our last visit to our orphanages. It was the day I had to say goodbye to “my seven” and a number of special others that we came to care deeply about during our time in Zim.
Goodbyes are always hard, especially when you wonder about eventually seeing someone again. But what felt even worse, on this especially cold and windy day, was being another adult that was deserting these kids for my own personal green pasture, which did not include them.
The visit to our remote orphanage -as it often did- interrupted a barefoot game of soccer. As we drove in one last time we were surrounded, as always, with familiar happy faces and too many grabbing hands. We laughed with the boys one last time, gave them special treats and pictures (the ultimate), and handed out bags of homemade trail mix as a last attempt at shoving protein in their malnourished bodies. We gave the boys our only solid contact info: email addresses that got quizzical looks and raised eyebrows. “Just keep it,” I said. “In a few years you may just see a computer here.”
We hugged, and Kudakwashe let us out the gate, waving as we drove away one last time. I cried as we turned onto the paved road that would take us back to the city, while our car randomly pumped the croonings of Regina Spektor into the air. At first it felt weird, like driving into my 21st century life while I left children behind without so much as electricity for the night. The upbeat music was ironic and awkward as we sat there with such heavy hearts and quivering lips. Then Spector’s words suddenly felt more appropriate than any I’ve heard before.
No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again