My host dad died yesterday. Yesterday morning at around 6:30 am I woke up to the sound of someone wailing in the street close to our house. In my sleepy stupor I didn’t think much of it, rolled over and went back to sleep. About 20 minutes later I had just sat up in bed and was trying to pull myself together when suddenly my host mom was banging on my door calling my name. I got to the door as quickly as I could and my host mom was hysterical and pacing back and forth in the hall and just blurted out that my host dad had died. I thought I had misunderstood her at first and she repeated it once or twice, and then we both simultaneously burst into tears. I hugged her and said “sorry” like 10 times and then all I could think to say was cum, cum? “how, how”?
The next few hours were a total blur. I had no idea what to do after that, so I called my program director, Elvira, who is AMAZING. She bends over backwards for her Health Education Volunteers. During this time, about 6 women, my host mom’s friends, whom I met and knew to varying degrees arrived at the house and immediately jumped into action clearing out the room across the hall from mine. One of the first things Moldovans do for any kind of significant event is prepare a masă, or a big feast, so they needed the table that I use as my desk in my room, and oddly enough they needed the curtains that hang over my doorway. I was trying to accommodate them with these requests and get myself together, out of my pajamas at least, with all the people in the house and more arriving by the minute.
I also had three lessons I usually teach on Tuesdays, two of which are 1st and 2nd period. I was like a chicken with my head cut off, I couldn’t figure out what to do with myself. Finally, after several frantic calls back and forth with my program director (she was busy calling my school director and partner teachers for me since my Romanian skills are still sub par on the phone) we both decided that it was best for me to come to Chisinau that day so that my host mom didn’t have the extra burden of taking care of me since she prepares all my meals and especially since I had not been feeling well lately. I was bummed that I didn’t get to teach any of the lessons that I had prepared and felt a twinge of guilt for not staying to at least be physically present for the funeral, but my program director simply said “this is life,” we deal with real life and it doesn’t stop just because of the Peace Corps. Things happen that are beyond our control no matter how much we try to prepare. That made me breathe a little easier.
Amongst the chaos of the morning, I managed to find a little respite of time to poke my head into their room (which is off the kitchen). The body was covered with a sheet but I genuflected and said a little prayer in my head for him.
I later found out that my host dad had some kind of heart condition. I knew something was wrong with him, my host mom had told me a few weeks before that he needed to have a “minor procedure” done but that it wasn’t serious. I felt awkward inquiring about it further, and probably wouldn’t have understood the explanation anyway, so I never thought much more of it.
Yesterday I found myself once again sitting at the autogara in Stefan Voda, our raion center, waiting to catch the next bus to Chisinau. I couldn’t help but think about the poetic irony of the situation: not two weeks ago I was sitting in this very autogara after my host dad had driven my down there, walked into the station with me, made sure I got a ticket to Chisinau, and even found two people who were also waiting and asked them to make sure I got on the bus with them. All but hold my hand. And now, there I was, and he wasn’t there. I only knew him for a few months but I will definitely miss him.
Peace Corps has a sort of apartment like complex that they keep for volunteers who are sick, injured, or struggling mentally/emotionally, so I will be staying her for the remainder of the week. My host mom has two grown daughters who live in Chisinau and are in Carahasani now, so she will have some much needed one on one time with them. Coincidentally, the Health volunteers have additional in service training next week and have a get together planned on Sunday in lieu of Thanksgiving, so I had originally planned to come into Chisinau this weekend to stay for the week anyway.
This Thanksgiving I am so thankful for my family and friends who love and support me unconditionally, and for this not so subtle reminder of how short and precious life is, and that each day should be cherished and lived to its fullest potential. I wish you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving.