020: Life Goes On

People had told her, ‘the application for Peace Corps is really self-selecting’. She was starting to understand what that meant.  She nodded as Marissa, the Peace Corps recruiter, spoke and the blond woman put Chelsi response into the computer.  Chelsi used the moment to let her thoughts wonder to the tasks that would still be left for her after her interview. Almost as if it were a cue, her phone, tucked in to the deep pocket of her backpack began to ring.  Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment and her blood began to boil. She knew who it was and who it wasn’t. Outwardly, she tried to keep up the appearance of being focused; as she had promised. 
“How do you feel about missing out on big life events happening here at home?” the blond woman asked
“27 months is a long time,” Marissa added. “There will be weddings and births and maybe even deaths, which you will likely not be able to partake in while serving as a volunteer.  Do you think these events will affect your ability to complete your service?”
It’s been almost a year and a half since that day, and she still remembered it clear as ever. It had simultaneously been the best, worst, hardest and most satisfying day of her life thus far.  Anyone who had seen Chelsi on that day likely remembers it too.  But it was this question, about missing out that weighed heavy on her now. 
“In the past five years I’ve moved nearly nine time. I already miss out on most things. I don’t really see becoming a volunteer as much of a change…” she had responded. 
Crayons or colored pencils? She wondered now for making her friend Rachel’s card.  Her friend was expecting a double lung transplant, any day now, hopefully.  So, knowing that mail takes about six weeks she figured she would make her a ‘Congratulations On Your New Arrival!’ card.  Because if not, there isn’t an alternative. 
She pulled up a picture of a cartoon stork on her phone.  Before she left for Zambia she knew her Grandmother was dying and as her first few months in country passed she knew she was actively avoiding calling her mother because she did not want to hear the news of the her passing.  ‘Just send me a death notice in the mail,’ she had told her mother when they talked about it in advance of her leaving.  She felt, six weeks removed it would feel final and holding the notice in hand would be a reminder that it’s real. But her mother refused to pass on the news like such and instead called her the day later and two weeks after being posted to her village.
“In a lot of ways it’s easier being here,” she said to Daisy, who was curled up under the table.  “There’s no holidays for her to be absent from, there’s no constant stream of letters to miss or care packages to hopelessly wait for. Since I’ve been here, there haven’t been any. So nothings really changed” She put her pencil to the blue marble paper.  “It’s easy to pretend she’s just there and I’m here…” The flaws in this scheme were obvious. 
The blond woman behind the computer began to speak, “Upon finishing their service and returning home most volunteers find it difficult to re-enter life in the States. They experience reverse-culture shock, the lives of friends and family have gone on and changed.  There is a sense of loss, not being a part of a meaningful work, or no longer being the center of attention.  Have you thought about how you will cope this when your service is completed? Do you have an idea of what you would like to go on and do next?”
‘What!?’ Chelsi had thought to herself.  ‘I don’t even know what I’ll be doing in two weeks, you want to know what my plan is after two years? I haven’t even left yet…’ “Graduate school probably.  I’m really interested in landscape ecology and mollusks. Or maybe a Master’s degree in mycology.  Can I apply for graduate school or take the GRE while I’m a volunteer?”
“The storks going to be bring a new pair of lungs! Isn’t that brilliant?” she peaked under the table at Daisy.  “Because it’s going to be like a whole new life for her.” Daisy wagged her curly tail, stretching her neck across the floor and closed her eyes. “I think she’s going to love it.” Daisy let out her breath. 
Chelsi carefully drew out the block letters, not one her artistic talents.  She was much better at drawing birds. I don’t really think I know any one that’s going to get married… Well there’s my cousin Libby who I think I remember my mother saying was engaged now.  But having never really been to wedding I guess I won’t really know what I’m missing anyway…  There pretty used to not having me around too. “What do you think Daisy?”
“You’re right, definitely crayons.” They did transfer detail as well as the pencils, but she liked the waxy feel, plus she had more crayon colors. 

Chelsi made a special trip to town so she could send out Rachel’s card sooner rather than later.  And she was excited too because now that she was no longer in community entry she didn’t have to bike there and back in the same day.  She would be able to spend the night at the Prov House. 
She was just sitting down to dinner with some new acquaintances when her phone began to ring. A special tone, one that meant it was her mother. 
“Hello?” Chelsi greeted her mother with cheer in her voice. 
“Hello, can you hear me alright?” her mother’s voice was weak and wavery.
“Oh, no. What happened?” her stomach began to crumple under the weight of her heart.  “I can hear you just fine.”
“Well, we had to put Saylor down today.”
“Oh, no.” Chelsi cupped her face in her free hand and rested her elbows on the table. It could have been worse. “Oh, no. What happened?”
“Well, she was very lethargic this morning and when I took her to the groomer Agenas made a comment how she wasn’t quiet herself and how she was looking pale. So I took her to the doctor and he ran some blood tests, and they came back look very skew. So he took an x-ray and from the image it looked like there was a mass and her spleen was bleeding.” Chelsi could hear her mother sniffling.
“You made the right decision. We didn’t want her suffering.” 
“So we… well I really, made the decision to put her down.”
“I’m really sorry.”
“So I wanted to call and let you know.”
“Thank you for thinking of me… Have you call my brother yet?”
“No, I’ll call later today.”
“Okay, thank you calling.” Her heart hurt for her mother, but what can I do? “I love you. I’m in town tonight.”
“Okay, good. I love you too.”
“I’ll be going home tomorrow.”
“How is Daisy?”
“She’s doing just okay. I’m sure she’s missing me right now.”
“Okay, well I’ll let you get back to your evening.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Bye darling.”
Life goes on
Whether you’re here or there
Far or near
Life goes on

Categories: Drama, Fantasy | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “020: Life Goes On

  1. Sandy

    It is very sad about Saylor. I’m so sorry Chels. I did send you a text that day. And I went to see your mom dad and Mandy the next day.
    Lots of love to you


  2. Jean A. T.

    I’m thinking of you Chelsi! It’s nice to read your blog. I’ll send you a letter, have a lot to catch up on! Jean


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