There are no leaves on the ground, and it's hotter than an Indiana July outside -- weather-wise, it's far from Thanksgiving. However, there is still an air of thankfulness in the air which makes tomorrow's feast seem much more realistic.
May I just start by saying: I've never been happier to see a child sitting up than I was today.
Being in Kenya has, inevitably, made me ever so thankful for what I have waiting for me in Indianapolis. Being in Kenya for four months has, unexpectedly, made me ever so thankful for what I am soon to leave in Kenya. I am thankful for the ability to walk to each day's destinations. I am thankful for children's homes that accept children, no matter who they are. I am thankful for ginger soda. I am thankful for colored pencils. I am thankful for red dirt. I am thankful for one-way streets that change directions and usually have traffic moving in both directions. I am thankful for banana trees and fresh pineapple. I am thankful for mosquito nets. I am thankful for broken Swahili. I am thankful for market days. I am thankful for paper beads. I am thankful for tea every morning. I am thankful for ugali, sort of. I am thankful for stickers and coloring books. I am thankful for dance parties. I am thankful for "Jambo" and "Amosi." I am thankful for candle light. I am thankful for talking with your eyebrows. I am thankful for body builders who deliver ice cream to the ICU. I am thankful for Pokemon bedspreads. I am thankful for laundry buckets. I am thankful for Italian restaurants, with logos that are yin-yang's with the words "bon appetit!", that serve Indian food. I am thankful for Spanish soap operas. I am thankful for wheelchairs. I am thankful for the smallest of smiles on a child's face.
We've had a hard few days. Really, it's been a hard few weeks. Each of our rotations has tested and challenged us in different ways but Sally Test has been the most emotionally trying. One can never truly adjust to the simple sight of the pediatric wards, and the pain that is felt there is impossible. Annie and I react to and process things differently, but we've both felt it -- death isn't something you can get "used to" over night.
So on Sunday when we first visited Nick in the ICU, as Annie described in her previous entry, we were challenged. Annie's right: these parents are amazing. I've known Nick for 2 and a half weeks and already, standing there next to his bed that was surrounded by tubes and machines, I was ready to give anything to switch places with him so that he didn't have to feel that pain. We've been visiting him every day since then, trying to hold our composure while doing anything we can to give this boy strength and happiness.
Today, we were heading to the ICU when we ran into Mama Nick, who told us that he had been moved to the HDU (high dependency unit). Not being doctors, we took this to be bad news, thinking that being highly dependent meant breathing machines and feeding tubes. Turns out we were completely off and oh, how happy I was to be wrong. We walked in and there was Nick, sitting up in bed, flipping through a book and listening to music. I'm not a crier, so it's significant that I was close to crying the first time we went to the ICU. I was even closer to crying today. Most of the tubes were gone, he was breathing without help, and we even managed to get a few smiles out of him at the mention of bringing him candy and finding him future American girlfriends. It's important to remember that he still isn't in the clear, that he had a fist-sized tumor on his heart. But still, he was sitting up.
Ever since then, a list has been forming in my head of every thing about Kenya that I am thankful for. So, most importantly, I am thankful for children who can sit up.