They say it takes a village to raise a child, but perhaps it is more than just children that rely on the support of an entire community. The past couple of weeks have been a challenge, whether it is working on getting back into the routine of work, making sure everything is taking care of and prepared for various memorial services or whether it is just coming to terms with what has happened. Everything seems to have melded into one, and this past week just felt like a coming down after a very surreal and bad dream. However through it all the community here on the island has been there for the entire team and they have been sending their love and support to Michelle’s family. Last Saturday was the “Misa de los 9 dias de Perdida” for Michelle and many people came to share in the memory of Michelle. It has been amazing to watch how supportive the community of Los Angeles has been throughout all of this and to see also how they grieve for someone that came in and touched their lives very deeply, if only for a short amount of time.
Not only has the community come together to support those working through their emotions but also the community has come together to help support and make changes to ensure further safety to both locals and foreigners alike. Many people have come up and spoken about how there should be changes to the system and that signs should be put up to warn newcomers of the dangerous currents. As Semana Santa, loosely translated to week of the Saint and which corresponds to Easter, nears there will be an increase in tourists and Nicaraguan visitors to the island. Various local groups, including NDI, are working with the municipality of Moyogalpa to be prepared so that everyone is able to celebrate safely. For changes to happen here everyone needs to be involved to ensure there is united front and so that all the different groups understand that those participating are concerned for the well being of all. It has been really uplifting to see many different people within the community making suggestions and coming together to help ensure that the island becomes a safer place in the wake of the tragedy that happened. The community here has not been alone in coming together, also the ND community has shown tremendous support as has my friends and family, without whom I am not sure what I would have done and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I also would like to send out love and support to all those still working through their own loss at this time and sending my thoughts and prayers for the services being held for Michelle this weekend.
I started consulting again in both Los Angeles and the hospital this week, after taking last week off to help out in the office and take some time to process what happened. I must admit that I was nervous to go back into clinic as I wasn’t sure I could be fully present with my patients and also I was feeling fairly exhausted. Fortunately for me the week started off gently with less patients than I would normally see and it felt good to get back to what I came here to do, which was to help people in the community improve their health. There were many condolences shared with me from both patients and those who worked in the hospital to both the NDI team and Michelle’s family. Although it is still difficult at times to talk about what happened I felt very supported and cared for here. Even the family from whom I rent my house has been so patient and kind to me during this time, giving me my space and offering kind gentle words to me when I needed. I may have come here on my own; I feel very much a part of the community now. I have constantly been reminded of the inherent beauty all around me, in both the landscape and spirit of the people. Sometimes I have hard time here with the dichotomy between the beauty contrasted with the harshness of certain situations that occur here, such as the one we just experienced as well as others that are experienced as a daily struggle by those who live here. It almost makes the beauty hard to bear, but perhaps that is what is needed to experience and appreciate it more deeply.
By the end of the week I was feeling more relaxed and more myself. I was able to converse with the family more than I have in weeks, which felt good just to be able to get out of my head. This weekend I was feeling good but lazy. The weather has gotten considerably warmer (read super sweaty white girl) so I had no motivation for biking about and spent most of the day at the Cornerhouse, then joined Tabby as she worked on delivering invitations to a town meeting scheduled for next week. During a brief break in the afternoon we stopped by Nestor’s property by the beach which he has further developed since I was last there. It is amazing! He and his friends have done a considerably amount of work and it looks great. I can hardly believe it is the same place as before. Afterwards we met up with Laura and Gary to go to the older lady who makes moonshine on the island as Tabby needed to get some more supplies to make medicinal tinctures. I had a very colourful image of what the moonshine lady’s house might be like in my head, and although where her still was pretty much lived up to my expectations the outside of her house was much more swanky than I would have thought. The day ended with a delicious meal with Laura and Gary, that made me so content and full I could barely bike home without rolling off my bike and napping on the side of the road.