Losing a battle or losing everything we thought we possessed will bring us moments of sadness. But when those moments pass, we will discover the hidden strength that exists in each of us, a strength that will surprise us and increase our self-respect.
We will look around and say to ourselves: ‘I survived.’ And we will be cheered by our words.
– Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra
I’m heading the airport soon. In a matter of hours, I’m getting on an airplane and leaving Ethiopia for the last time. Maybe not the last time forever, but the last time for awhile. During one of the lowest points of my service, my good friend gave me a gift of a patchwork parachute with the words “I have woven a parachute out of everything broken” written on the basket.
What I can see from here, not quite yet landed after a two year skydive, is that Ethiopia broke me. It broke me, and somehow, from everything broken I’ve managed to weave a parachute and fall more gently to the ground. It may not have been pretty. I may not have thrived. But I did survive.
And that is what the end feels like. The feeling of clarity after I’ve just survived something so terrifyingly difficult and life-changing. Like things will never be the same again, nor should they be. That I, despite everything, have come out stronger. I’ve come out a better person and I am cheered by that thought.