I am getting better. Around ten at night on November 1st, a night I will never forget, I had to be supported by two people, one on each side, to give my beloved’s body a farewell kiss as they took her into the hospital. I would never see her again—not on this earth. For the next two weeks, I had trouble walking, trouble breathing, and had about five or six panic attacks every day. The doctor, John, and lots of folks were worried about me. It’s been a little over a month now, and I can walk without a cane and have even walked around outside a time or two. My back pain and my panic attacks have gone, in part thanks to a relaxation and meditation app my daughter-in-law sent to me. I’m still using it every day, and it helps. I’m no longer breaking down and sobbing ten or twelve times a day—it’s down to just once or twice when something reminds me. I’m starting to focus on the future and what I know she would have wanted of me. We have packages coming that should be here before Christmas, and it is always good to have something happy to anticipate. The reason I wrote about our sleeping capacity yesterday was to maybe inspire some to come visit. Knowing that people we know might be coming is a big plus right now, even if it isn’t true. If anybody does come, please put at least one can of corned beef hash in your suitcase for me. I haven’t had it in over a decade and used to eat it three times a week at a restaurant in Fayetteville with fried eggs, toast, and orange juice. I’d like to have just one more of those breakfasts. John and I would love to have native English speakers (that includes people from the American South) around even if it is just for a few days.
With Karen no longer teaching in the English class, all but two students have left, so we will be closing that down at the end of the month. She was a big draw and impossible to replace. We’ve had some other issues with which to deal, and I think Shaban and I are doing a bang-up job. One of the outside workers just wasn’t doing well and was also causing trouble. We needed to cut back on our costs, so Shaban suggested adding those chores to the teachers and cook every afternoon and giving them raises for doing it. With no afternoon school, they were very happy. We were able to let the bad worker go, get the same work down, save money in the process, and help the teachers at the same time. Everybody wins. We also had a bad teacher who wasn’t really needed. Karen just couldn’t bring herself to terminate the girl who was related to a man she liked. Shaban and I had no such qualms. She will be leaving at the end of the month and the other teachers will each be getting small raises and the overall cost of the school goes down a bit. Win, win, win in my eyes.
John and I are also working on getting repairs that needed doing—done. I don’t have the joy of waking up to a new day with my honey any more, so at least, I wake up to making sure the place gets fixed up and looks good. It’s important to know that we are not alone here, that others in other countries still support our work. I really need to hear from folks in the form of comments or emails or even actual cards and letters. If you want to send something to keep me going, our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 21
There is no postal code and letters and cards will get here in about two weeks. Packages, always welcome, take three to four weeks. It’s expensive to ship things to us, so we don’t expect that from any but those who have already been doing it. It would be very nice to receive a card or letter from time to time.
I don’t know what it’s like for others who have suffered a hard loss like I have, but I know I will not get past it without a lot of help from people who care. Please don’t forget how important just two or three words can be to me, especially on a daily basis. Thank you all so very much for all you have said an done so far. Some have made contributions in Karen’s memory to a variety of good causes. Some have made contributions to our work here—it is still our work, Karen’s and mine even if she isn’t here anymore in person. (Pictures at right: below, our beginning together 1965, above, our beginning in Africa together 2005) Her spirit is strong here and you would know that if you could have heard the orphans' cry when they found out she was gone. They knew that she loved them so when so many didn’t. She truly was: Mama Africa.