In seconds someone could be lost. The shock of it is stunning and it numbs your heart. There is so much loss. It is a reality that sits at the back of my mind like a brick in water. Weighted at the bottom with no breath of life. Through tragedy new things are realized. The loss that people have experienced here in Thailand as well as back in the States is in some ways the same. There is a devastation that seeps in seeking to ruin the hearts of those left behind. Each death I see happen around me forces me to reflect on those that I have lost. I remember the long months grieving the loss of a loved one. The sadness that weaves itself in between regret and a life that moves to mere memory. All you can hold onto is the distant sound of their voice and their laughter and joy that surrounded your life in love. Even those I have only known a little while, I still grieve the loss of their future. The gentle nod of recognition as one passes the other going to class was a continual reminder of their existence. And in a flash, they could be gone. The person on the street is no longer a nod and a smile, it is a memory as you pass the same place without them there. Life is a continual shift, a constant moving. We are constantly changing, constantly moving, constantly looking backwards and forwards trying to realize who we are in the present. It is overwhelming and exhausting. My heart wants to continually grieve those who have been lost. I want to curl up and relive the memories in joy and misery. Someone once told me that death never gets easier, you just learn to cope with it differently. Whether the person was someone you passed on the street or someone close to you, it still shifts your reality in some way. I am still learning to find a new reality with the knowledge and experience of loss. I am still learning to breathe beyond the tears to carry the legend of the person within my heart. The person would not want you to grieve in sadness, but grieve in the joy of their life. A few days before leaving for Thailand I visited the grave of a lost friend. His grave says, “What matters in the end is that you loved and were loved”. It encourages me to keep loving where I am at now. And to make sure I leave no bridge burned, but to leave it built in love. Because I never know if it will be the last time I will see them. That is my constant fear, the fear of losing people. A fear I have to learn to place in God’s hands. I have to learn to place those who have been lost in God’s hands.
Beyond the rush of emotion there has been adventurous moments here. After class we have been wandering around Chiang Mai and exploring the wonders it has to offer. Seeing people in their every day life is fascinating. The movement of life is fast paced in the city. The meals ordered are made right there by sweet older ladies and the drinks are 75% ice. It is fun, exciting, and incredibly hot. I have been paying attention to the different prices, placement of stores, people in the stores, and the seemingly western tactics of marketing. When a sign says sale here, they are for sure over pricing it. It is hard to know the realities of this region and the harshness the people face. But there is also joy here. The beautiful mix of Thai hospitality and sweet smiles as I try to respond in Thai. The stunning craftsmanship and artwork that line the markets is a spectacular display of tradition and culture. The Mekong region has experiencing harsh realities, but there is still an overwhelming joy here. Just like the pastor in Burma told me, the people are poor, but there are still happy. The people here are still in God’s hands.