There were four funerals last weekend and today we learned that one of my family’s aunts had passed away. It is nearly 9:00 in the evening and there is a crowd of people outside our house singing prayers.
Hael’s host mother, Ailuj, is a widow. She dresses in black every day and is not permitted to leave her home until the one year anniversary of her husband’s death. When I ask Soma about this he tells me that Ailuj must stay inside so that she does not bring bad luck to others, as she did to her husband.
We are required to make a portfolio of our work during training and one assignment is to map out the members of our host family. My host mother is one of eight children and my host father is one of ten. Together they have lost just four of their 16 siblings and this makes them incredibly fortunate.
When I got my Peace Corps placement I remember sharing the news with my advisor in a floury of excitement. Joe listened and smiled, reminisced about his own PC years and then leaned in and asked me quietly “So, are you ready?” I beamed and quickly replied that I was. Joe’s voice dropped slightly and he asked again, “But, are you ready?” When I hesitated he said, “For all the death. Are you ready for all the death you will see?” and I remember looking at him for a very long time.