I’ve been working on a book I wrote when I was around 22. It’s an account of the year I spent in Romania at 19. I’m really glad I have it because if I wanted to write the book now, at the age of 43, I wouldn’t remember all the details. However, since I DID write down all the details, as I read through it, my ability to recall the sights, sounds, and smells... is with vividness.
My goal in writing the book was to share the experience in general. Now as I read through it, with so much hindsight in what I felt, how I coped, what I was thinking, and how I feel about it now, I am continually crying.
At 19 I was strong enough to see and feel the sadness because my perspective on everything was still young perspective. I’m an old hag to pain, sadness, hardship, happiness, joy, and my now old perspective is wiser. Unfortunately I now see greater sadness in the life of a child that had no life beyond orphanage and hospital walls.
I’m reading what I wrote about Ramona. She was dying a slow death from AIDS. I remember her tiny laugh that had everything to do with feeling joy at being held. She was like a bird, so tiny, but almost three.
I’m writing this because I’m hearing myself say a lot lately about enjoying life, living it to the fullest, being the best me I can be, and now suddenly I’m re-reading my book and I have the reality of Ramona in front of me. She never had any chance to “live life to the fullest” or enjoy it. She lived her life in pain and alone. Fighting for strength, peace, comfort, anything… doing it and dying completely alone in the world.
I feel so desperate to be told that Ramona will reincarnate as a lucky soul given everything she could want, including a loving family. I really can’t believe she only got one shot, and the whole experience was shitty because of the decision of a young mother to not keep her child in her arms, but to leave her to the walls and the cribs. A prisoner.
I don’t know how to quantify the benefit my year in Romania gave me, but I know this for sure: it gave me humanity. It gave me clarity. We are like continual dominoes… not one of us can fall over without touching another, be it good or bad.
Ramona died on my birthday. I’m going to insist it was so I knew she appreciated my domino touching hers.