I decided to go a new direction with this piece. For each heart breaking moment, I am highlighting one or two specific things I remember about the moment… like purple socks, Mr. Brightside by the Killers, and chicken noodle soup, to name a few. here is my re vamped version of my africa paragraph… or what I like to call Urine and Orange juice
Realizing what I was supposed to do with my life came from heartbreak. I was fifteen years old when my parents took my sister and I on a typical family vacation to Africa to visit some family friends. I hadn’t seen my best friend Alex in a year and I was so excited to see her again. We got our malaria medicine, received painful vaccinations, packed up our stuff, and boarded the airplane. I arrived in Ghana and for the next ten days I lived Alex’s life. She and I went to the market in Accra and bought dyed fabric and sweet potatoes. We took a machete out to a field and chopped grass for her pregnant guinea pig. We even gave her pet monkey a bath. There was not a trace of hardship or pain. This didn’t seem like the Africa I had heard about. That Saturday morning was dark and stormy. We loaded up in a green land rover and drove for an hour and a half across bumpy dirt roads. Finally we arrived at our destination. There was a gray cinder block building on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Children ran toward us and smothered us with hugs and kisses. A screaming baby was immediately handed to me and I had the challenge of subduing her. We had arrived at a home for abused and abandoned children. There was Xavier, the eleven-year-old soccer fanatic with one leg. Then there was Martha who was seven. She had burn marks on her arms and a brace on her leg because her mom had poured boiling water on her when she was four. Grace, the baby girl I was holding belonged to fifteen-year-old Patti. She had come to the home after her parents found out she was pregnant and kicked her out of the house. Another baby was handed to me. This was one-year-old John who had no diaper and no pants on. I was standing there holding two precious babies watching a kid with one leg play soccer. I loathed my self because of what a self centered person I was. I buried my face in John’s shirt. It smelled like urine and orange juice. That’s what heartbreak smells like. I hugged these two beautiful lives. My heart broke for them. It was a life shattering moment. It was the moment that I realized I had to spend the rest of my life helping children like these. Tears welled up in my eyes partly from the smell and partly from the revelation. My heart lay in a million pieces on behalf of these children. It broke me so deeply. Urine and orange juice never smelled so beautiful.