Disclaimer: this post is going to be a bit of a downer, sorry.
Today was the first day I truly hated being here. I've had my ups and downs, I've had days where all I have done is lay in bed watching movies because I didn't want to face the stares of everyone in town that are still fascinated by the fact that I don't look like them. But each time, I was able to realize that everyone needs time to adjust to living here. It's the same for every Peace Corps volunteer, regardless of location. Today was not one of those days.
When I woke up today I thought it would be a nice easy day coming back from our 5 day weekend. I checked my email saw one from my Mom asking me to call her, it was from earlier that night. I wrote back a cheerful reply that I had been asleep but that I would call her this afternoon. I then saw she had messaged me on every form of communication we had. I started to panic, all I could think was that something had happened to someone in my family. It was 2 in the morning her time. I called my Dad who lives in Maryland, each time the phone rang my heart grew heavier, all I could think was if something happened to him,surely the Peace Corps would have called me. Finally he picked up, and told me to get on Skype so we could talk. At this point I could barely breathe, it was so hard because all I could think was if something happened, can I get the time off to go back to the States, why I am all the way in China, why am I not close to my family. Dad signed back on, and I called him immediately. He then told me he hated to have to tell me over the phone but that yesterday my Mom had to put our family cat to sleep. As I write this, I know some will think,come on Meg, it's a cat, it could have been worse. But that cat was family. We adopted him and his brother when they were so small you could fit both of them in the palms of your hands.He followed my brother and I around the house, and if you were sitting down, he was sitting on you. He slept in my bed every night for 10 years. He never bit or scratched anyone in anger, not even when he was scared. When my brother and I left for our respective universities, Tora decided my dog was his new best friend and would sleep in the dog's bed with him. When he died he was fourteen years old and seemed to be in perfect health, a little on the chubby side, but I thought it gave him character. He apparently woke up in the morning in extreme pain, Mom rushed him to the vet but there was nothing they could do, his heart had a valve that wasn't working, he was too old for surgery. The only humane thing she could do was put him to sleep.
When I wrote this is the day I hated being here, I meant that I hated hearing my mother crying on the phone, I hated hearing how our other cat seems lost now that his brother is gone. I hated not being able to give my Mom a hug and tell her that it wasn't her fault and that she did the best thing for him. I hate having to hear news like that over the phone and know that I won't be home for months. I hate the fact that I came to China knowing something like this could happen, but praying that it never would. I hate the fact that I am here now with the knowledge that I am not immune to the world moving on around me, and that I cannot change whatever may happen.
Days like today make me want to go home, hug my Mom and my Dad, go to my grandparents and the rest of my family and hug them and make sure I never leave their sides. But that's not living. You cannot live your life waiting for the inevitable. This afternoon, after talking with my Mom, I've really started to think how I will choose to live my life post Peace Corps, whether I choose to join the Foreign Service, or if I find a job closer to home. So even though I really hated being in China today, I can appreciate it and the lessons I've learned from it.
Family: I love you and miss you
Mom: Stay strong, and I love you forever and always
Tora: the best snuggle cat a girl could ever ask for, you'll always be in my heart