on silence. . .
The blog has been a bit quieter than normal. Every time I sit down to write, the words seem either too superficial or too raw. . . finding the balance in between is harder than I want it to be.
So we post pictures of animals, and beauty, and the breaks in between. We document the girls growing and listen to their words. These are real and beautiful parts of our life here, but they often only show the space in between the heartache and the struggle. The beauty is part of the picture, but not all of it.
July through September were incredibly hard for me. We had a flurry of goodbyes at the end of June, and I found myself barely braced for the hole my colleagues left. July, we bore the brunt of the country-wide nursing strike, and children came to us with illness progressed beyond the reach of our medicine, so we walked with too many of them through the valley of the shadow of death. Our consultant staff was bare-bones, and as we sought to give each other space to breathe, we sometimes looked around and felt more alone than we should ever feel.
So I stayed silent here. Unsure of what to say.
But, in the midst of feeling overwhelmed, I saw myself surrounded by people who loved me. . .who came alongside me to make sure I was okay, to encourage me to step away for moments of silence and sanity, that brought me chocolate or chai on bad days, and spoke truth in times where I felt like I couldn’t do anymore.
When the overwhelming moments got the better of me, I met with forgiveness from those who love me most. People let me complain instead of problem solve. Cry instead of carry on. I saw the value of relationships that we have built over the last three years and reveled in the silence shared with friends who know you do not have the energy for one more word.
In the place of feeling beyond my strength, I found arms carrying me – our clinical officers, my colleagues, our pediatric nurses, friends down the road, friends across the ocean, friends who flew across the ocean to give me a hug in person. Friends who sent David and I on vacation away from the hospital for the week and watched out girls and covered my shifts, and encouraged us to revel in quiet, art, beauty, and sunsets.
In the midst of questioning the why of being here in Kenya, I found new purpose and hope. New reasons. Quiet moments at midnight to teach. Laughter with colleagues that have become friends. Seeking and trusting that purpose is still found in the days that seem impossible to walk through – that God will meet me there with His strength.
And in the midst of the valley, good things continued to happen. We opened our dedicated pediatric ICU, and in the ensuing months we have seen our nurses train each other in critical care and our mortality numbers drop to lows we didn’t know were possible. We walked through an unprecedented political climate and we held each other up, comforted each other, found teamwork and friendship that tempered crisis. We tested the limits of our NICU and sent tiny premature babies home, beautiful and strong. We taught and trained interns, sharpened the skills of our team with constant learning. We welcomed visitors and fundraised for patients that had no family to pay their bills. We walked with light even in the shadow and darkness.
In the last few weeks, I feel that the cloud is lifting. Easy laughter and words are returning. I feel more like myself again. I know the rollercoaster will continue, as it does in every life of valleys and mountains. But I hope next time I can walk in with my eyes wide open to the community and strength and possibility that surrounds me, to the One who knows what I need when I don’t have the words to ask.