It’s 4am. The kids have been up for 2 hours already. Sufyan is break dancing. Laila is building a tower out of blocks. I am making 2am snacks and we are seriously jet lagged. It’s raining outside, a steady downpour that sounds like heaven and makes my eyes want to close. I have a strange feeling of déjà vu as I look around and wonder where in the world I am. Everything is familiar…and everything is foreign. This moment is nearly identical to moments of our arrival in Palestine almost a year ago. The jet lag, the rain, the break dancing. All of it. We have just moved our family across the ocean for the second time in a year.
Here I sit, surrounded by my jet lagged family and the emotional fallout of a sudden, urgent departure from Palestine.
After over 36 hours of travel including 6 buses, 4 taxis, 2 planes, 4 passport control points, 1 passage through no man’s land, endless metal detectors and one argument with a soldier at the Allenby Bridge we have arrived back in the States with our entire lives in boxes and bags.
2 weeks ago Sufyan was recovering from surgery performed at St. Joseph’s hospital in East Jerusalem. His recovery was not going well, and he was in increasing pain around the clock. Without going into details about our many reasons, we decided that we had to get him back to the States immediately to correct what had gone wrong.
So, while packing our old house and while only half-moved in at our new house, we were packing yet again. This time into suitcases. Since my son was in pain we had to move quickly, actually running from our closets to our suitcases and from room to room throwing things in boxes. Family came and went with food for us, with words of love and support while we handed Sufyan ice for his teeth and ibuprofen to sleep. Teta and Sido came to stay and play with the kids while we turned our world upside down–again. I tried to breathe, look out the window and memorize the skyline of Ramallah and the hills I love so much. Laila and I made 2 early morning excursions onto the roof to see the sunrise and feel the breeze that is constant in Ramallah. And to say goodbye.
Just like that, we have moved overseas again. Our second overseas move in a year. Just like that, my time in Palestine has ended on nearly the exact same day in February that it began a year ago.
Tonight I sit here at my computer in a kind of shock. It all happened so fast, I didn’t get to say goodbye to Ramallah. Being back in the States is so familiar, and yet nothing is the same. I’ve changed. We all have.
Tonight I miss the hills, the sunsets, the breeze, and my friends and family in Palestine. My heart aches for the suddenness that was unavoidable. Our belongings are peppered with items in Hebrew and Arabic that are no longer local; now they’re exotic. “Where am I?” is the question that keeps popping into my head. Laila is pretending to sell Rukab ice cream, Sufyan is looking for shekel rides. We are all piecing together the life we had and the life we have now.
As difficult as this has been I am looking forward to seeing my son out of pain and on the road to recovery, and I am grateful for the loving arms of friends and family that have received us here. My kids have had more playtime with other kids in the last 3 days than they had in the entire year we spent abroad. That alone is enough to know we are doing well. It brings tears to my eyes to know how ready they are for playmates.
I had not planned to leave like this. Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans, right?