It’s Okay

April 19, 2017 - 2017 Operation Antar Bano

So yesterday I said goodbye to my 38 best friends. I tried so hard to keep it together because I knew my time was so short. I didn’t want my last moments with these adorable kids to be anything less than super happy. I never said no when they asked me to spin them, I chased Manish and tried to memorize that grin of his, and I held Tejender’s hand just hoping that I would never forget how it feels to love and be loved like this. 

We gave them all backpacks at the beginning of the day and they were so dang excited. I was scared they would fight over the Spider-Man one or cry when they got one they didn’t like, but they all looked at me like I was Santa Claus when I handed them out. It was so adorable to watch them dust them off so they weren’t dirty. Tarzan had Brandon hold his up so it wouldn’t touch the ground. Oh, my heart.

Then we gave them toothbrushes, and I really thought it was Christmas. I went through and helped them unwrap their toothpaste and toothbrushes. I squatted down next to Tarzan. I looked up into his face, and he was smiling so big at me, and then he started giggling. And I just lost it. I started crying while I handed it to him. It was just all so much, knowing I would never see that adorable grin ever again and seeing that they’re so grateful to have a toothbrush. 

The day continued and I just tried to savor every moment, memorizing how it felt to hug them and laugh with them. And then we sang One Day to them, and then Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which is their favorite song of all time, and then our translator Karuna translated our goodbyes them. Oh, it was hard. So hard. I went over and hugged Tejender first, and then all the other little kids came over and gave me hug after hug. When they were all done, I looked down and saw that Tejender had never let go of me. He still had his arms wrapped around me and was just looking up at me. I’m tearing up even as I write this ahhh… I love him. It’s so hard to think that I only got a week with him and I won’t see him grow up or do anything I know he’s capable of. I realize now that I’m lucky to have been a part of a sliver of his life when our paths would never have crossed before. Saying goodbye to Hukum Ram was also super hard. I hugged him and he was crying and I said, “Don’t forget me, okay?” And he just nodded his head. It was hard. So hard.

We all cried on the way home. Tarzan had been crying and that was so hard on Brandon. Tarzan and Brandon were the dream team. Gitanjali, who adores Michael than anything, had also been crying, so it hit them super hard. Just a quick shoutout to my Bodacious Blue Team: Amy, Mil, Emilee, Michael, Brando, and Meghan. I’m so happy I could share this experience with those guys.

Okay, so here’s the deal. On April 22, I’m getting off the plane as a new person. I have weird tan lines all over and henna on my hands, and I’ve changed a lot. I think I might actually hug people more than three times a year now because you never know how many hugs you’ll be able to give a person. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned how important it is to put your phones away, put your differences away, put your worries away, and just connect. Connect with the people around you. Although it’s true that the kids at Bahu are so loving and good, there are loving and good people all around us. We don’t necessarily need to travel across the world to find them. Just love people and have deep talks at night and hug so tightly and say thank you and do your best and smile. That’s all. 

My pictures are of me with the cutest kids you’ll ever see and then there’s this other one of me that Sam took… I lost a What are the Odds and had to put it in my blog. I also have to get a henna tattoo that says “mom” inside a heart to match his. If you were wondering. Well, I love you all. Thanks for listening. It’s okay. I’m okay. It was lovely to be loved, and now I’m ready to love some others. 

-Allie Oniki

5 Responses to “It’s Okay”

  1. I have hanging on my wall in my bedroom a quote that says, "We are made of the stuff of eternity. Endings are not our destiny." I had that in my mind all day and read it over and over as I thought of each of you and the pain of saying goodbye to those sweet kids. It will all be ok. And it isn’t over. It’s just a pause button. I know it.

    Get ready for a hug from me! ūüėČ

  2. Loved reading this, Al! We love you and love what you have experienced. We are excited to stay up late into the night hearing about all these cute kids. I thought you would want a henna tattoo that says "Mom" in it.
    Love you!

  3. Allie I loved this. I read it and teared up–such tender feelings. I was talking to Sam’s sister emily about the goodbyes yesterday and how hard it would be and she reminded me that hopefully you will all meet again sometime with a perfect remembrance of the time you spent together and love you have for each other! Well done.
    P. S. Sam got a henna tattoo? Oh boy.

  4. This is a beautiful post, Allie, it made me teary too. I love your insight on getting off the plane anew. You are wonderful!
    Fun fact: mom tattoos are kind of a thing in our family so I trust Maddie got one with my initials: TP. Meaningful on more than one level.

  5. Allie, Thanks so much for this post. What you’ve learned is what we all need to learn and incorporate every single day. I’ll remember this, and do my best to love, connect, and accept. xo

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