January 14, 2011

Adventures in Belize: Part 1

Dear Mom,

No worries, I haven't forgotten about you! I have been in Belize, Central America for the past few weeks filming my short documentary on maternal mortality improvements with John. This trip has been nothing short of amazing in every aspect. There is so much to tell you! I will save those ramblings for another day when I am back home cooped up in the house avoiding frostbite, but tonight I do want to share one quick story with you.

Over the years, I have found that traveling has a way of removing me from my 'real life' mindset. My brain takes a vacation too, and I find little-to-no time for grief. It is wonderful. Sorry, but missing you is hard work! It's nice when the pain ceases for even a few days.

Obviously I couldn't go two whole weeks without thinking of you (I still can't wrap my head around the fact that you are constantly on my mind every day after three years, although I'm starting to see that as a blessing as I can more easily remember our happy times together). Last Tuesday, we were were busy spending the day as tourists since we had no interviews lined up until the next day. We went cave tubing and zip lining about two hours from where we were staying, and the manager of the hotel had lined up a driver for us. He was a young Belizean guy wearing baggy pants, a Sean John shirt, earrings, and a crooked hat-- not quite the person a young lady like myself is eager to drive off into the jungle with-- but it turned out he was really nice, informative, and worth the overpriced fee.

He and John spent the day chatting away while my mind raced about my film and upcoming interviews. I overheard them talking up front as he described his wife of 11 years and bragged about his 6-year-old daughter that was second in her class. I finally snapped back to reality when I noticed we had pulled off the main road on the way back to the hotel. I didn't recognize where we were, but knew we were at least another hour from our destination. We came to a stop in front of a small house on a dirt road. My heart raced a little faster.

A woman and a little girl came strolling down the walkway to the car and hopped in beside me in the backseat. It was his wife and daughter, and they were coming along for the ride to keep him company after he dropped us off.

Our only interaction in the back of that cab was a simple exchange of hellos, but it was what they didn't say to me that spoke volumes. Watching that mother and daughter interact next to me like no one else was crammed into this tiny car with them was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. They had notebooks in hand and spent the next hour reviewing her notes from school, studying how many quarters make one dollar, praising her when she said four, and giggling together when she said, "and one half dollar equals... a dollar?!" The mother wrapped her arm around that little girl and pulled her close as methodically and effortlessly as if she were just an extension of herself. And just like that, they were happy; a cab driver, a gas station cashier, and a 6-year-old with a bright-colored scrunchy holding up her long black hair, without a care in the world.

Flashbacks flooded my mind of the four of us spending long days at the sandwich shop that you and Dad opened one year; the summers we spent in a small cottage at Barker's Pond; our Christmas videos that capture the years when I was convinced footie pajamas and Kool-Aid mustaches were the best attire.

Looking beside me in this cab, a part of me wanted to cry and say to them, "Don't you realize how quickly this happiness could all be taken from you?! Enjoy this! Soak this in!"

But then the other part of me took over and smiled... because I knew that's exactly what they were doing.



  1. I absolutely adore this post. So good to see you're doing so well and having an amazing trip in Belize. Get home safe. Enjoy your time there. You deserve all the happiness you can stand... and then some. :-)

  2. Sami, It was good to see a post and such a sweet story to share! Enjoying those simple moments, that's what it's all about isn't it? Can't wait to hear more about your trip when you are ready to start telling it. Glad you are getting some time to be a tourist too!