There were many teary eyes as we got on our bus to leave Way Opot this afternoon. Saying goodbye is never easy, but in a community that is so used to saying goodbye, I was surprised that it was still this hard.
Over the past week, I convinced myself that this resilient community had developed the super-human ability to defend against suffering. To protect my own fragile heart, I imagined their past loss would help make our departure quick and painless. Of course, I wasn’t aware of this imagined story until I witnessed the very-human suffering that everyone was experiencing. The shared human condition. There is no escaping it.
As the bus pulled away, it became clear that it is the authenticity that makes this community so special. The children experienced the loss of the IWA team fully, but as they do after each loss, they returned to their routine to experience joy just as fully. Knowing this, I opened to the loss I was trying to protect myself against and began to cry.
The ride back to Phnom Penh was silent, but we warmly shared in the joy and the loss, as well as the extreme gratitude for all of our little teachers that we fell in love with. Thank you, Watopotians, you will be in our hearts forever.