December, 2011 In the back of a worn down yellow pick up truck rummaging through clothing, toiletries and school supplies deciding who gets what amongst a town of 50 villagers longing for even a hair tie.
Once we start giving things out to the families, the natural human instinct kicks in, and as patient as they try to be, only moments later Ronda, my dad and I are surrounded by a frenzy of needing hands and wanting arms.
I’m caught off guard by their worn, callused and unclean hands as each of them tell a story so few of us could ever tell. It’s overwhelming and very difficult to be “the one” who decides who gets what, and it feels awful to do have to do it. Not everybody is going to get something today. I didn’t bring enough! People start coming out from everywhere! Every time I glanced up from the clothing quickly dwindling away, I’d catch the eye of a woman with weathered eyes begging for a pair of socks for her baby she was cuddling, or catch the eyes a teenage girl hiding behind the pain of her lost childhood or a little child mimicking the action of brushing his teeth….he wants a toothbrush but I don’t have enough! People are quickly all over us, tugging and poking at my body, the little ones at my legs or as high as they could reach.
Right when things become slightly uncontrolled Ronda runs up to the truck, looks up at me and yells under her breath “I can’t find pants for a little boy!” Her dreary eyes telling the story of what she just saw and her heart trying hard to get the words out she says, “I need pants, he’s over there with his mommy with no shoes or pants, dirty and he’s cold…..there’s not much left Tanya and I gotta find him pants!”. In a state of panic and desperation I grabbed what was left and tried to find anything that would suffice. I frantically grabbed a pair of little girl shorts and a tank top and threw it at her hard and yelled “this is all I got left, give this to him and his mommy!”. My heart sank harder than a rock in the ocean. “Focus Tanya, FOCUS! Hold yourself together!!”.
Feeling my heart suffocate with crippling emotions, I’m a HERO for some, and a failure to myself as I leave others empty with a broken heart. Defeated, I gave what I could but there wasn’t enough…. not nearly enough. A few moments later as I turned around from the beaten up, empty suitcases and bags that only moments before we’re busting so full, I hear the sound of children singing “Feliz Navidad” for me, Ronda, my dad and Ben.
I can’t say I deserved to hear such an amazing melody, a gift floating in the air because all I could think of was what I didn’t and couldn’t do that day.
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