As I was processing my departure from Nepal, I wrote out my thoughts to some friends and family in the form of an email/journal. My thoughts were appreciated, and I was asked to post them to the HAND News section so that our supporters can also read them.-
It is going to be quite a transition for me to come back into the sterile world of the USA once again, and get back into a routine. I deal with some PTSD from time-to-time from the things that I have experienced here, and been through, but I am looking forward to getting back into it again as soon as I can. I suppose that it is like a war veteran coming home and then volunteering to get straight back into the line of fire again. Things will be strange for a while. We have been through 320 aftershocks now and I was in the middle of one 7.3 major quake. The suffering that I have seen is unexplainable, but we have made a difference, one village at a time; and saved lives.
I leave in 12 hours with mixed emotions. I am quite tired and beat up. I have not had much sleep for 6 weeks now. So many have died in front of, and around me; including the Indian doctors killed yesterday by a landslide in my area while I myself was trapped for 3 hours behind a landslide from our 4 tremors yesterday and major monsoon flood that did its best to wash us away at 2am from the side of the mountain. I am sad for the Marines that lost their lives, Nepal soldiers that lost their lives and four doctors with Doctors Without Borders that lost their lives. Maybe some "survivors guilt" because I should have died myself at least 40 times in the past 6 weeks, but was some how spared without serious injury. I believe in God's protection, but I question why I get spared and others do not. Especially the children. So many of them have died or been seriously injured. I couldn't find the body of a 12 year old boy. Too many rocks on top of him. I couldn't recover many others. Too many rocks on top of them. I did my best for the families to recover whom I could.
I miss my soldier brothers after we suffered together dismembering bodies and eating gruel in a military camp on the Tibetan border. It took me a good course of Cipro to get over my own parasites and violent diarrhea after those 6 days. Major Dhana wears his helmet into the "charpi" because the roof and thousands of pounds of concrete is ready to cave in with each shockwave from the earth. I am totally out of the loop as to what is going on in the outside world. Major Dhana called me the other day to check in on me. He is still up there and missing me badly. I miss he and Major Raul badly also.
We had my big going away party tonight. I left with promises to return very soon. I also had a good talk with Pastor Jon Wilson. He gave me a lot of tips on PTSD and told me to forget anyone remotely understanding what it is like in the other world. He prepared me for a transition time. I have not had any panic attacks for a while, but I still scream in my sleep once in a while. Jon told me that it is normal, but I do need to deal with it at some point, if it bothers me. I have always appreciated my sleep, but I find that I go to bed hours after everyone else now because I like to think at night.
35 or so of the most respected people in Nepal came to my going away tonight. I was draped in many "khata's" and gifts. Raj even got out of bed for the first time in months to attend. We had a long hug and shed a tear together. I told him that if I don't see him again in Nepal, I will see him in heaven. I may very well never see my long-time friend who has suffered so much again in this life.
Everyone is worried that our mission will decrease with my departure because "I am the glue; the beloved man of the people." I will do my best to facilitate missions from afar, while also getting back to the necessary task of spending time with Mako and my kids. I have no idea how they feel right now, as I lost contact for days at a time.
Still processing my departure. Thank you to all HAND supporters for all that you have done for HAND and our mission to help one village at a time after this devastating double earthquake in Nepal.
Posted by Brian Smith