Yesterday was the last day we had Light and Mendo with us. Troy, Shane, and I drove the boys (and Nat from Ghana) down to the AFS gathering spot. We were supposed have them there by 2:00 and be on our way by 2:15. We didn't get there until 2:30. We had some last minute delays--Light's box of hockey equipment had to be repackaged at the post office (look for him on the 2010 Thailand Olympic hockey team), Mendo's laundry wasn't quite dry, twenty yards away from our driveway Mendo turned us around with, "Oh wait! I forgot my passport!", we stopped to pick up some lunch, and finally got into some backed up traffic. I knew the plan was for the students to spend the day at the indoor water park meeting spot while they began the "readjustment to going home" process and the bus taking them to Chicago wouldn't be leaving until after 10:00 pm. When someone wondered if we should take the time to stop for something to eat I asked, "What's going to happen if we're late? Are they going to send you home?" Normally I play strictly by the rules, but I was not looking forward to leaving my boys!
Sure enough, the last minute hugs were tearful and I had to go back to the van while Troy and Shane said their own good-byes. They joined me a few minutes later and laughed at my tears. I laughed with them. Troy said, "I just don't get it." I said, "You're not a mother."
For the rest of the day I couldn't even say "Light and Mendo" without welling up with tears. It happened when I looked at the ceramic Portuguese fellow that Mendo made, and when Gabe looked out the window and yelled, "Enno, Enno, Enno!", and when I counted out the plates for supper, and when I opened the empty dresser drawers, and when I saw the half full green water bottle on Light's dresser, and now while I type these words.
I am reminded of something Missionary Jack Manley, the first white man into some of the tribes in Papua, New Guinea forty years ago, told us. He was trying to explain the love of God to a cannibalistic tribe that had no word for love. During all of his years with them he couldn't find a way to tell them about love. Then, as he was leaving them a tribal man said to him, "My throat aches for you." And that became his definition for love.
Today, my throat aches for my two boys.