Tomorrow will be the last official day of the missions trip. This morning I worked at the medical clinic at a school located five minutes away from our resort. In about four hours we saw 150 students and staff. We handed out all the multivitamins, sanitary napkins, Tylenol, and ibuprofen that we brought for this particular clinic. We handed out other meds as necessary, such as creams and cough medicine.
This week has been bittersweet for me. The quote at the end of the daily readings in the missal today was from St. Angela Merici: Do now what you wish to have done when your moment comes to die. I find myself teary here on occasion. How can I explain how I feel having officially surpassed the 365 days I was given? I find myself missing my beloved Africa, not knowing if I will ever be able to return. Gratitude overwhelms me at times when I see something beautiful or experience something meaningful. All I have ever wanted was to serve the Lord and I am blessed to be able to do that in this matter one more time. I know that I will spend my life in service until I take my last breath but my passion has always been to work overseas, amongst the poor.
I had said to my social worker prior to leaving that I wanted this to be a week of not being focussed on living with cancer but it is harder to do that than I thought. I am constantly checking in with my body to monitor my fatigue and discomfort. I combat feeling disappointed when I cannot fully participate in a project that is happening. I am being gentle with myself but it is not as carefree as I had hoped. I have purposely not told most of the group so that I can have a somewhat normal experience.
So many people live without being mindful of the moment, assuming that they will have a lifetime to do the things that they long to do. I have lived the past 30 years or so as fully as I have been able to and I continue to be grateful for that. The reality is sinking in that I will not be able to do everything in life that I had wanted to. That realization has been lurking in my mind this week and all I can say is that I believe that I have done all that I have needed to do. Whatever else left is a bonus. This understanding makes me want to weep with joy and I find myself vulnerable and emotionally fragile. I have spent the afternoon resting in my room and trying to work through some of what I am feeling. I think it has been helpful.
These three amigos are just some of the young people I spoke to today. One of the older male students and I had a conversation about his dream of finishing high school, going onto university, and becoming a chef with his own restaurant. He would be the first in his family to go onto university. Most of us have dreams in life. Some of us chase them fiercely until they become reality. Others just talk about their dreams. I invite you to pursue your desires in life with passion. Do not be that person who lays on their deathbed with great regret. No one knows how many days are given. The local staff person here shouts joyfully to us each morning we arrive on site, wake up! Wake up to the life that is yours and embrace its beauty.
What is it that you long to do now?
Looking back over your life, what one event fills you with gratitude?
You who number our days, give us motivation to live a life worth celebrating. Let us serve you with joy and hope. May we not look back with regret on the day you call us Home. Rather, may we be welcomed into your kingdom as good and faithful servants. Amen.