Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Sorry" is the hardest word...

On Friday night, Sister Juliana announced that she was going to her village in the morning to sympathize with sister who lost her child. She hinted heavily that she needed a travel companion, but I had so much to do this weekend that I didn’t volunteer. Finally, she full out asked me to go. I really didn’t want to go, but six or seven hours is a long way to drive alone, so how could I say no?

I was feeling quite resentful when I had to wake up extra early to spend half the day in the car. Then I was like, Wow, Kate! You’re such a bitch! Juliana’s one-year-old nephew had died, and I was grumpy because I was missing a Christmas concert to comfort the boy’s mother. What was my problem?

Once we had stopped for food and I had eaten breakfast in the car, my headache went away, and I decided that moping about a Christmas concert and stressing about everything I had to do was not a good way to spend my weekend. If I was going to spend a total of about 14 hours in the car that weekend anyway, I might as well make the best of it. I only have about seven-and-a-half months left in Ghana, after all. Let’s make this an adventure.

Oh, but it would be a sad adventure, I knew. I’ve found Sister Juliana before with teary eyes, deep in thought, telling me that she saw a baby jumping around who reminded her of her nephew who died two weeks ago. My little friend, Small Boy, was the third child in his family to die. "I just really hope my sister doesn’t have any more kids," she said, sadly, "and I hope her four remaining children survive."

When we arrived at her parents’ house in Homasi, it was quite a different atmosphere from the first time I went. It was much quieter. I looked out the car window, and saw some baby girl clothes drying on the clothesline... they must belong to baby Juliana. I sadly wondered what would happen to small boy’s baby clothes.

When I saw the boy’s mother in house, I told her I was so sorry. I’m not sure if she heard me or not, because she didn’t respond. Instead, she pointed to the kitchen, where two of her sisters were calling to me as they cooked. "Ey, Yaa Asantewaa!" (Everyone at that house calls me by my Ghanaian name, Yaa Asantewaa)

I hope she heard me the first time I said it. I didn’t have the courage to say it again.

I can’t stand sadness, so I chose happiness. I spent most of the weekend playing with small boy’s older brother and sister, Kwesi and Becky. I don’t speak enough Twi to converse with them, but we communicated without words and still had a good time.

I told the oldest boy in the family, James (age 15), that I was sorry about his brother. But "sorry" was too hard for me to say to small boy’s grandparents or aunties, so I just played with Becky and Kwesi while the grown-ups in the room talked about small boy’s funeral in Twi.

On Sunday morning, when I was saying "goodbye," Sister Juliana’s father shook my hand and thanked me for coming, saying he hoped I would come visit their family again before I go back to America. He thanked me for playing with the children and for bringing happiness to them. I smiled when he said that. I wasn’t very good at sympathizing with them, but if I could bring happiness to the children... well, I guess that’s something to smile about.

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