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Saying Goodbye: Part 2

April 8, 2007

shanthisly.jpgWhen Damon visited Mother Teresa’s with me to say my last goodbyes, I couldn’t wait for him to meet Shanthi, the girl I’ve written so much about here. I had told him of her progress, of her laughter and of the way she tugged on my soul. She would be the hardest to leave.

We were pulled along by a large cluster of chattering ladies and girls for a full guided tour of the facility, but Shanthi was nowhere to be found. A low panic started building — where had she gone? What could have happened? No one seemed to know. Finally, one of the residents pointed towards the washroom, where we found her snoring away in her wheelchair in the hot sun. Forgotten? Nothing we could do would rouse her; I was saddened and a little concerned. Was she ill? Had she accidentally received too much medication that morning? How long had she been there and when would she have been retrieved?

We wheeled her out of the sun and she came groggily to. Our attempts to connect and engage her weren’t so successful — she was just too out of it. My friend and fellow volunteer Allyson recognized the signs of mild dehydration, and suggested we bring water to Shanthi after her sun-baked nap. As we tried to get herkds.jpg to drink, and said our wistful goodbyes, Sister and some of the girls were nearby, happily playing with my camera, oohing and ahhing over “snaps” of the Golden Temple. I didn’t know until much later that they had taken this photo of us — of my last moment with this girl I had started to think of as my own, and have every day since. It’s too hard to wrap my head around the fact that I’ll likely never see Shanthi again. I push those thoughts aside by hungrily reading the small stories of her sent by other volunteers who have remained in Delhi and decided to take a break from their own work to visit Mother Teresa’s for a day here and there. They’ve told tales of her strong grip, her happy outbursts, and of the angelic beauty I so fell for. It’s comfort, but still. I feel like I left family behind.

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2 comments

  1. This is so cool checking in here to see you still posting long after coming home and in the midst of wedding preparations. Wow. Thanks 🙂

    What a wonderful gift to find this photo on you camara! Damon looks like he fit right in just as natural as ever. I’m sure that Shanthi thinks of you too, and feels your love. You really changed things for her, brought attention to her when she was forgotten. Your relationship with her and your feeling for her is such a beautiful example of how one person can make a difference and to me, a metaphor for God’s love that abounds for us, even when we feel insignificant. Beautiful stuff.


  2. What a story, what a picture… this is what life is all about.



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