Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Feverish Dancing

Easton, Simba and friends race in the field of the care centre.

This morning, I woke with Zimbabwe on my mind. Sometimes when I dream I'm back in Africa, I wake up disappointed by my comfortable bed. I try not to be but I do spend a lot of waking moments thinking about our friends and loved ones across the ocean.  In particular, this morning, I woke thinking of Sukubva. I loved our time in Zimbabwe and perhaps most of all, our time in Sukubva simply because I wasn't expecting to love it so much. I knew I would love Honde Valley and the rural landscapes and mountains. The idea of an urban area and its unbelievable density didn't seem like my scene. I could not have been more wrong.

First of all, as I may have mentioned a thousand times or more, there are no more welcoming and friendly people in the world than Zimbabweans. So, times that by the few hundred we met in the streets of Sukubva and it was an incredibly overwhelming sense of being long awaited and welcomed home.
I set out today to put together an album of our time in Zimbabwe to remind us of our time there. I wondered how Easton would perceive the album because to be honest, most of the time we were in Zimbabwe, we all got pretty sick, Easton worst of all. He was at the mercy of some sort of stomach bug that pretty much wrenched his whole body into submission. Obviously, looking back at our time in Zimbabwe,  it's not pleasant to think about being sick. I think of the nights in which Easton would just shiver and sweat beside me, writhing in pain and crying.  It hurt my heart to watch him suffer and knowing I could do nothing to ease it for him, he just had to get through it. Unfortunately, it took a few days to get out of his system but it was enough to make him afraid to eat or drink anything and so his body just didn't recover as quickly as the rest of us did.

Today, I was amazed by the photos I found of Easton in Sukubva. I cried looking at them because I remember the day that many of these were taken. Easton was a little on the crabby side of things and couldn't really muster a whole lot of polite conversation. The care workers were concerned about him and his lack of energy and kept at us to make sure he was drinking and eating enough when all he really wanted to do was lay on the seat of the car and rest. He walked the community with us which was a lot to ask and even at one point, had to give in to his body and use the "facilities" which was a life altering experience for him in itself.

Later in the day, we gathered at the care centre and ate with the care workers and Easton joined in and sat with his friend, Dillon, and did his best to be part of what we were doing although I know that he was aching just to go back to the home we were staying in and rest.

The next day, still not himself, we went back to the care centre where all the kids that the care workers visit and care for, were invited to join us for games and just time to play and be together in a large group. They came and because their homes are spread throughout the area, they were a little shy at the start. Having visited many of them in the days leading up to the gathering, many of them recognized our family and their care workers and looked to us for company. It was a good opportunity to bring the children together and give them time to be kids away from their day to day lives. In the morning, Easton wasn't sure how he was feeling and was reluctant to go along. We didn't have an option for him so along he came. The photos are proof of how amazing he was that day in Sukuvba. I look at them and it honestly brings tears to my eyes. I only remembered how sick he was and how many times he came to seek shade and rest in the centre. I remembered him being crabby and quiet, ornery and obstinate, but when I look at the photos, I am embarrassed at the way I remembered the day.  I see a kid that literally ran races in the heat, held children, danced and engaged. The photos of him dancing and playing games are witness to how he forgot himself and his own discomfort and just fully engaged in what was going on around him. There are literally dozens of photos like faced, sweating,  dancing, playing, running and just being part of the whole thing.  I know he was still feverish and shivering at points during the day and I remembered him through the lens of my own worry and frustration at his sickness and grumpiness. I'm so grateful I captured the reality of the day through the lens of the camera. Sometimes being behind the camera gave me the option to get my emotions in see things objectively. Thankfully, the photos that came out of this day in Sukubva allow my emotions to catch up with the very real image of my son. All that he gave of himself to the children of Zimbabwe that day pales in comparison to the amazing gift he's given me to be his mom and to see him for who he truly is, from the comfort of my living room in Canada. Am I glad I brought my kids half way across the world, far from this comfort? Unbelievably so. Looking back at some of our worst, most uncomfortable days? Here they are. See for yourself. Unbelievable? Absolutely.

Dancing with the care workers and children in Sukubva...this photo makes
me tear up every single time I see it - such a beautiful day we had.

Easton finally worked up the courage to hold his friend, Dillon. Dillon responded to Easton's
voice and would smile and look for him when he heard it.

Taking a little break in the shade of the
care centre shelter. Still smiling.

Easton racing with his friends at Sukubva, Zimbabwe.

Easton and Priscilla, the amazing coordinator of the community based organization
in Sukubva, Zimbabwe. 

Easton expressing his amazement at the meal
that Aidan prepared for us.

Jason and Easton in the shade of sugar cane.

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