Saturday, September 15, 2012

36 Hours of Hell

The news coming from Cairo and Benghazi was horrible.

I saw the video of the protesters in Cairo ripping up the US flag, and I cried. I cried for a couple of reasons. The flag is a symbol of a country that I love. One I love so much, I uproot myself and my children every couple of years in service to said country. I also cried because I imagine that the people who were protesting in Cairo were genuinely hurt by the actions of a few individuals in the United States. I wish that had never happened.

And then I heard about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. This attack seemed so much worse, and resulted in the death of a US citizen. And I got sad. And then more news was confirmed. The US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens and three others were confirmed dead.

Well the news said so, but friends on facebook said that the Department hadn’t confirmed. We wanted to wait for the Department to confirm it before over reacting. But more and more (trusted) news sites came out with the news of the deaths.

How sad for those close to the Ambassador and the others. How sad for the whole Foreign Service community.

I spent hours watching facebook and the news. My mood got darker and darker. I went to bed at some time, but just bawled while John held me. I didn’t want to sleep. So I went to the office and spent time on facebook and watching the news. It was so horrible, and everyone from my Foreign Service circles agreed. Finally at 1:30 a.m. I forced myself to go to bed. After I sort of slept for four hours and helped Malachi get off to school, I didn’t want to do much. I looked at facebook and the news again.

I forced myself to stop. It wasn’t helping my mood, and there wasn’t any new information. Although, the Secretary did make a statement, it only confirmed what we knew and brought no happiness or hope about the situation.

I tried to escape reality by watching Downton Abbey episodes from the second season on Amazon Prime Instant Viewing. But with my craptastic internet that was often a frustrating ordeal. I stuck it out and finished the season, though it took much longer than it should and random sentences and tense moments were often interrupted.

Once I was out of Downton Abbey episodes, I was out of ideas for a distraction. I could read, but I didn’t have my Kindle with me. I went to sleep a very unhappy person.

When the kids woke me up at 4:40, I was more down than I’d been all day. I was in a horrible mood, and the news wasn’t getting better. After John got home, I went out to the living room to be with him and the kids. And not long after was sent to my room again. I was so unhappy and was not a good addition to the family at the time.

I went to the room and sobbed. I shouldn’t be allowed to be happy with my children and husband, I thought. It’s not fair to the wife of Sean Smith, and to all the others who were mourning their lost loved ones.

When I made my feelings clear to John, he asked me if my being depressed helped Sean’s wife. How does it help any of the mourners? The logical part of me that was being pushed deep inside of me knew this of course. Shoot, they don’t even know I exist. I just needed someone to tell it to me, and help me recognize it.

I took a shower. I washed the grease off my face and out of my hair, and I washed the bad mood away. I made a decision, I was going to be happy. I was going to enjoy the rest of the night with the boys and have fun with John. I was going to laugh and I was going to smile.

And I did. I kept all of those promises to myself. After dinner the boys went to bed. After the boys went to bed John and I watched Liar Liar with Jim Carrey. And I laughed. A lot. I hadn’t seen that movie in years and it was so funny. We realized how many movie quotes we say that came from that movie.

And the next morning I was remembering Chris and Sean (and the yet unnamed other Americans) but I went about my day in Manila with a Dr. appointment at Seafront, a run to the main Embassy compound for lunch and paperwork, and an appointment for spa pedicure and manicure. John and I had a date coming up and I wanted to look good.

And I was happy. I was tired from not sleeping well for a while, but I was happy. I could remember Chris, Sean, and the as yet unnamed two others, and still enjoy the perks of my husbands job.

And I’ve had my moments of depression since then when looking at all the news of all the attacks. And I’ve even had a bit of fear since the attacks spread to SE Asia. But I feel very safe in The Philippines. I’ll send Malachi to school and John to work knowing that the Filipinos love Americans.

I’ll send Malachi to school and John to work knowing that people like Sean, Chris, and the two others served our country so that I could do so.

1 comment:

Amber said...

Sarah, thank you for writing about your reaction to recent tragedies. It is a hard time for all of us, and what you wrote made me realize I feel guilty sometimes as well. Tripoli was in our top 3, we were lucky to get Japan, and people don't hesitate to remind us. (Not that we forget..) But, yes, it could be any of us, someday. You made the best decision to enjoy and cherish your babies and your husband! I wish for greater understanding and respect of our husbands' profession and our own, at times charmed, but sometimes very difficult, lifestyles. It seems that more secure working quarters must be demanded prior to working in hot spots. Right now, I too, am thankful to be living in a country that is invested in friendship with the US, on both political and personal levels! (even if our home is surrounded by guards and police 24 hours a day... it's probably a good thing!)