Thursday, May 4, 2017

Knock on Wood

Hi. I mentioned last time that I recently made the mistake of talking about, out loud, with my big, fat mouth, the smooth sailing our little family had been enjoying these days. Not blogging, not to you, but to one of the boys. I actually said the words, "because we're fine. Like, everyone here is fine, and studying, and we don't have any problems."

Well, I'm sure you know what that means.... THAT DAY it started.


First it was Wizzy, our sweet little village pup. We got Wiz from our neighbor a little over a year ago. They have a small working farm and couple of dogs that aren't fixed and, I swear, they have a litter of puppies every... something crazy. One day I found Wizzy rolling around behind the house and asked if we could keep him. Of course we could, once we were able to grab him, and the boys named him after Wiz Khalifa (eye roll). He was a street-hardened 2 month old; he didn't want to be touched, he wasn't afraid to tell you about it, and he gave our big, jealous Prince a run for his money. He didn't know it then, but life with Prince and five boys who are just learning to really care for and about others (especially animals), has a way of humbling you. Also, there isn't a person or a dog (or a chicken, it seems) living in house this that isn't spoiled. What I'm trying to say is, Wizzy grew up to be the kindest, gentlest, most laid-back guy there ever was and he hasn't seen a street or a village, without his leash and his boy, ever since he came to us. Until that stupid day.

The gate at our new house doesn't have a handle yet, so we just kind of wedge it closed and hope for the best. Occasionally, a worker will come through and forget to close it, sometimes the wind blows it open, or sometimes a brave kid wanting to get a look at the "lion cub" (aka Frank) will push it open and run. My heart always stops a bit when I see the gate hanging open. Most Rwandans don't love dogs, especially out were we live, and it's pretty common to stone or beat and kill a dog on site. There have been a couple of instances where Prince and Wizzy have wondered out the open gate, but I have always run out to find them just hanging around the 41shops. Chilling. Until he wasn't.

We have a pretty big backyard area with lots of segmented parts and the whole thing is still basically under construction. It is currently "paved" with killer lava rocks while we wait for them to pour concrete. The new kitchen, half built, stands in front of the current, makeshift kitchen which is one of the stock rooms for the No.41 shops. There is a sectioned off garden, with a half built fence, in the center that is full of beans and that the dogs use as a playground. And the drainage ditch/ "laundry room"/chicken run off to the other side. On any given day, there are people and animals milling around all over and it could be easy to lose someone in the shuffle. Especially our quiet, independent explorer. 

Now that I blabbed all of this, let me try to make this long story, short. It was a Friday night. Angel came home from work at 6p and the gate was open, but she didn't say anything and just closed it. All the boys have to be home at 7p and everyone shuffled off to bed by 10p. Around 10:30p Inn and I were the only ones still up and I went to lock the back door before going to bed. Prince and Wizzy both sleep outside for added security. As I closed the door Baptiste, our guard, said, "Boss. Wizzy, no." I asked Inn if he had Wizzy and he didn't. I checked the front yard and the kitchen to see that he wasn't locked inside. Panic mode came fast and strong. I couldn't remember the last time I had seen him. I calmly (read:not too calmly) woke up Mo and Terry and they walked the compound, inside and out, calling for Wizzy in their own special way. "Weee! Weeeeee!" "Wi-zaaaaard-eeeee!"

In Rwanda, again especially where we are, 10:30pm may as well be 2:30am. There is no one around and pretty much everything is shut down. I felt helpless and just stood next to the road looking side to side, willing the tears not to come, as the boys sat around and talked about what could have happened. And what was bound to happen if we didn't find him soon. I have mentioned before how I try to maintain some kind of balance between loving and caring for our animals, yet being sensitive to our friends and neighbors about how we do that. I didn't want the boys to see me cry, because I've learned they feel out of control, if they feel like I am. And crying means you're not in control (even if you are). I also didn't want to be the crazy dog lady going door to door looking for our pet. So, a few minutes later, we wandered back into the house and I heard their bedroom doors closing, one by one. I went into my room, prayed, and cried myself to sleep.

The next morning when I woke up all the boys were gone. I found Angel in the kitchen and asked her what we could do. She said we should bribe the neighborhood kids to find Wizzy, if they found him we would give them cookies. So that's what we did. She rallied the troops and, for the rest of the day, you could hear kids all over calling for Wizzy. But for another night we went to sleep without him. I slept in fits and had terrible dreams. He always came home in the dreams, but he was always badly hurt and broken and bleeding. When I wasn't sleeping, I was praying.

At 4am on Sunday, I woke up to what I thought was me screaming in my dream, but I quickly realized it was a dog, crying, and heard Terry saying, over and over, "Are you serious? Are you serious?!" I ran down hall and out the backdoor to see them! WIZZY WAS BACK! And he was fine! Sweet Baptiste had been walking up and down the road looking and he found him, disoriented, but trying to come home. He was missing his collar and his tail hung down like maybe he had been hit on the back, but other than that he was perfect. He eventually woke up the whole house with his crying. I don't know who was happier, him or us. So, on Sunday, all was right with the world again. For one day.

Monday afternoon one of the boys decided to "pull a Wizzy", except that it was for four days instead of two and I have a lot less to say about that because I was mostly just furious. Anyway, in case you think it's all fun and games and wifi and music around here, we deal with quite a bit of pain and trauma, too. These aren't my stories to tell, yet they have become my reality and the biggest part of my prayers and the stacks of books I read. Though he did eventually come home, a couple of days later he wrote me a letter and slipped it under my door before he went to school. As I read, I smiled, he was very sweetly apologizing and telling me how much he loved me. And then he asked me to "find him a new home" because he was "so tired of being in this one". That evening, in a conversation, we crossed that hurdle (aka cry for attention), but only a couple of days after that, it was back. This time we were out of options and I gave him what he thought he wanted. His freedom. He packed his things and I let him go. He was mad and so was I. Obviously, the story doesn't end here, he hopes and we hope he'll be home again soon, but it's overwhelming and frustrating and confusing. Heartbreakingly so. For all of us. And yet, the world spins madly on.

So, I would like go on record saying, out loud, with my big, fat mouth, we are not fine. Like, everyone here is not fine, and not always studying, and we have a few problems. Ok, bye. xo

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