Uganda Diaries

Frantically searching for an important document, I rummaged through all my papers up and down the Study. My mind can’t be trusted with anything anymore! My memory is shot. I exhausted myself and all my options. Over a cup of tea, I thought about all the places I had not looked through. A box full of Saagar’s books and diaries. I never read through any of his personal stuff. But that day, before I knew it, I had read all his musings from his travels to Uganda with a friend. They were there for 2 weeks to help at a local school supported by their College.

It seems when he was struggling, he wrote. Like me. He wrote exactly as he spoke, leaving some words half said and stretching out the first letter of unspeakable words. His diary was reading itself to me in his voice. I felt like he was in the room. I was an intruder. It wasn’t my place to read it. It was personal to him. But it was also my conduit to him even if it was written 27 months prior to Day 0.

It was clear that the boys were totally unprepared for the massive change. This is the note from his last day there.

30/7/2012. 2300 hrs.

“Never before have I been able to say the words “I want my mommy!” with as much certainty as now. This sucks ass. I feel like such a pathetic little shit. I hope missing Mother is no more than a manifestation of homesickness.”

A deep feeling. Then a judgement. Then an admonishment and then a substitution. A minimization. A classic example of a young man being brutally unkind to himself even though he is suffering. Being a ‘man’. Not allowing for any fragility even in the face of a harsh reality.

Fact: He missed me. Thinking of me brought him comfort. I have evidence.

How could I ever doubt that? By judging myself too critically. Why do we do this to ourselves?

That was a beautiful gift from you to me on your birthday my son. 25th birthday! Bless you my love.  

Day 893

It was an evening of sharing Saagar’s story with a group of lovely young women. We talked about the art of listening non-judgementally. We practiced the skill and found it tricky. We noticed the strong urge to jump in with solutions and ‘fix it’. We found silent pauses awkward.

We explored the things that stop us from listening – a thousand things knocking about in our own head already, our own stress levels, fear of having to take action, fear of saying the wrong thing, I am not qualified, it’s not my job, and so on. Most of the reasons came from a judgement of ourselves or the situation.

Out of the blue, a thought ran clearly through my mind and before I knew it, I was speaking it out loud. I was reminded of a constant grievance I used to have with Saagar. I would request him to not leave utensils in the kitchen sink after use. How difficult could it be to put the dishes into the dish-washer? But, I often found dishes left in the sink. That small thing pushed my buttons. I would tell him off for being lazy and for not respecting this small request I made of him. I judged him. I couldn’t see that he was depressed.

Judgements come from the head.
Connection comes from the heart.
Harsh judgements create great distances between hearts.

I must not judge myself too harshly now. I am learning. Mindfully and heartfully.