30 November, 2008

So beautiful, so cold...

Dear Daughter,
Winter, and the snow is fresh and light.
It sparkles like the sunlight dancing
on Lake Harriet in the summer.
But now the lake is solidly frozen,
and covered with snowdrifts.

In the midst of this frigid beauty
I am haunted by the descriptions of your students:
their poverty and neglect.
It resonates with that phrase JK Rowling used:
as "impoverished as one can be without being homeless."
I think of England as the civilized world,
and so the idea of rotting teeth, mal-nourishment 
and open sores which do not heal is disturbing to imagine.

I look at my son and remember a time in Krakow
when I was told he would not survive his respiratory infection.
Traveling so far, while homeless, and unemployed,
I felt so alone.
I lived on dreams and empty promises.
Words spoke to seduce me into fantasy
and an illusion built of smoke and sand.

This is the anniversary of that time of meeting in Poland.
The struggle to endure in spite of the poverty
and illness.
You refused to be left with your Babcia.
Walking everywhere, you accompanied me 
to empty store with rude sales staff.
And to cafes with menus filled with things 
that were "sold out" or "unavailable"

Yet we were wealthy as kings with our meger American dollars,
and knew we would never go hungry.
Cold, yes...but never hungry.
The black market was designed for people like us...
And we used it.

Slowly, we repaired the decaying apartment
and by the time spring came 
Adam was healthy,
and you were eavesdropping and translating 
the conversations of the strangers around us
who had survived their initial shock of seeing
Americans living in their midst, as Poles, 
and apparently by choice.

So much has changed,
but our children are hungry,
and cold.
I believe you are making a difference in the lives of the children 
you meet in your work
simply by showing up, and giving them your loving compassionate attention.
Your curiousity.
All it takes is one person.
One starfish.
Only one:

Sweet dreams, my super-hero,
Your Mum

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