“Grace. Wake up. Did you feel that?”
I cracked one eye open. Still dark. My roommate LB was holding her phone up next to the bottle on the nightstand, trying to light up the water to see how much it was rocking.
“I’m pretty sure that was an aftershock.”
I missed it.
But I think I’m the only one. Everyone was discussing it at breakfast, and it’s the reason everyone over here is still sleeping outside even though the air drops below freezing at night these days.
It’s hard to blame them. Little Berfin, 4, lost her dad in the quake, as well as an uncle that was father to newborn twins. The whole family — 25 of them — spends their days inside the one home among them that’s still semi-safe, and they spend the night in tents outside.
“Didn’t the quake happen during the day?” I asked a friend. “Why do they think it’s safe to spend the days inside but not the nights, if their family members died during the day?”
It’s baby steps, we figure. Baby steps back to a life where they drink tea inside and don’t worry about the danger, don’t weep every day for the loss.
Today they definitely still weep.
We sat having tea with their family in a stove-warmed room, eating on the floor and joking about whether or not one of my friends would marry one of the single brothers of the ones who passed away.
Berfin’s grandmother, the matriarch of the family, turned to my friend and said, “Thank you for making us laugh.”
It seems the least we can do. It’s easy enough not to even do that. Last week, I was admiring a trendy pattern for pallet shelves on Pinterest. Today, I saw a lady using one as her tent floor.
Having tea with Berfin’s family narrows the gap.
As we sat with them, tears dripped from the grandmother’s face, and one of her daughters showed us a picture of the now-fatherless twins and promised to let us meet them when we came back. It’s a holiday weekend for them — Kurban, the Muslim holiday celebrating the saved life of Abraham’s son. And it should be the wedding week for the youngest sister of the two dead brothers. But the pain is too great to celebrate.
As I sat on the floor drinking tea, I thought of my friend Abbey whose father passed away this summer. It’s a holiday for them today, too — his birthday. And I know it must be a rough day for them.
Death knows no bounds, cultural or geographical. We all meet it, and we all are hurt by it.
But we do have something different. Something they don’t.
Before we left, my friend prayed over the roomful of women. I didn’t understand any of the Turkish (except the part about Berfin’s tooth infection — “infection” apparently sounds the same in all languages), but I prayed God would meet that family — meet them with salvation that would keep them not from the pain of separation but from the fear of death, the fear that kept them in their tents more than anything else.
I prayed we will keep coming back.