Frozen in Time
One moment is all that it takes. One moment where you breathe in, breathe out, and realize that life is never going to be the same. From that point forward, things are irrevocably beyond your control and you are waiting for the world to stop spinning – only it never does. The sun rises and it sets without your permission. The rain comes and goes and you have no say in it. The world keeps moving forward, but you are frozen in time, fully aware that you are hurting, but not knowing what to do to make it stop.Miguelina was someone whom I have grown to love over my brief time with her. We first met beside a dusty open-backed truck on a piece of property tucked back at the base of a mountain range. From where we stood I could see the span of the Atlantic Ocean over the treetops of the coconut palms. We were standing in a garbage dump, and though all around us was beautiful, the beauty was overshadowed by the stench of the garbage, the buzz of the flies, the roar of the trucks unloading, and the constant, choking dust from the filth.Miguelina is a very young mother. She has a two year old and is very pregnant with twins. I am trying to get to know her and find out how long she has been here. I don’t remember her from last year, and I am fearing the reason why I am finding her here now. She confirms it with tears in her eyes: her husband was crushed in the earthquake, and she found out after his death that she was pregnant. Scared, alone, broken, pregnant with twins and starving, she brought her child with her, walking across the border and continuing on foot for a few days until she arrived here. She has nothing. Nothing except her child, the two on the way, and the will to survive.As I stand there and talk with her, I think about how different our worlds have been since that day in January. I think of where I have gone, what I have done, the people I have had the chance to spend time with, the work that I have been blessed to be a part of, and most of all, I think of the security that I have had knowing that I am loved, provided for and safe. But not Miguelina – her world has been frozen in time.I watched as other Hero Holiday people with me would chat with her, compassionately helping her collect as many bottles as possible. She needed all the help she could get, and was grateful for the attention and concern. But I wanted to know how we could help her in particular. Surely someone like her would have a running list of everything they would ask for if given the opportunity. I know many who, if they were in her place, would be able to rattle off a long, growing list of what they would need or want if given the opportunity. Our time has run out for the day and we need to leave. As we are loading everyone on the truck, I see Miguelina talking with one of the girls with us. They are speaking French and she looks up shyly as I approach them. “Migelina, is there something we can do to help you? Is there something you need?” Thoughtfully touching her belly, as if to caress her twins, she smiles shyly. “Perhaps new blankets would be nice for the babies.”New blankets are easy: they can be bought and delivered. They are tangible and can offer proof that something has been done to help her – that someone cares. Stopping the pain of loss and the ache of loneliness is not so easy. We each hug Miguelina as we get ready to leave, and I wait until the end. I hug her one more time and hold her close. For that brief moment as she clings to me, almost desperately, I feel the sharp ache of her loss and her fear of what tomorrow holds. As we let go, I touch her face and kiss her cheek. “We will not forget you,” I promise. And it’s true. This week, one of our Hero Holiday friends is delivering some supplies to her in her village and checking to make sure she is okay. Because sometimes we just need to know that someone has reached out, touched our lives, and they are not going to forget.LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s Hero Holiday projects are continually growing and always exciting! We would love to have you join us and be a part of touching lives like Miguelina’s. Check out www.livedifferent.com.