Thursday, February 23, 2006

my heroes have always been women

Allison and I said goodbye to her two "best friends" today. They were flying home following their parents' break-up. Their father would stay on in Loreto with his work while the rest of them returned to Colorado. Their adventure here had come to a sorry end; Loreto had proved the breaking point for a fractured union. I really adored those two little girls for their open hearts and the comfort they gave Allison with their friendship. And for the cheer they brought me in days spent at our house swimming, baking brownies, riding the scooter through the orchard squishing fallen oranges. I am sorry to see them go.

We had a farewell lunch today which included two aunts come to the aid of their dispirited sister at a restaurant on the Malecon. We sat at a large table overlooking the ocean and ate empenadas and enchiladas served by the French owner who always wears a dainty scarf around his neck. I gave the girls and their little brother gifts to remember us by. The younger sister gave me a packet of handwritten goodbye notes to deliver to her school friends.

After lunch the children walked with the two aunts along the shoreline for a last look at the ocean. When the rest of us joined them I saw that the mood had turned somber. The joking and laughter at the table had turned to tears and confusion at the waterfront. The reality of the departure was settling in. For a brief moment I wished for the unrealistic: Wasn't now the last possible chance for rescue? Couldn't their father appear and plead them to stay, sweep the mother up, offer love and forgiveness? Put it all right? Save his family? But that was not to happen. Instead, women had come to aid and comfort and shepherd home this broken family.

I watched these little girls weep for so much lost so early. I'll always carry the picture of the older girl buried in the embrace of her aunt on that bench on the Malecon. In some ways she leaves her childhood right there on the shore of the Sea of Cortez. I may never see her again, she's not mine to take care of, but a little piece of my heart goes with her. She may never remember me, the witness to her sad crossing.

No comments: