We made it home! I can’t even say how thrilled I am to be here. How free I feel. I loved being in India so much, but I feel now how much I carried around a heavy sense of responsibility while we were there. I so wanted it to be a great trip for the family. I worried about everyone staying healthy, about them not getting hurt, about them being happy, feeling at ease, liking India. I arranged our travels, our accommodations, our food, etc. Jennifer helped with all of this, but I felt the responsibility greatly and did not realize how much it had weighed on me.
Now, I’m sitting in my favorite chair under a lamp in the pre-dawn dark. My favorite time of day. I finished my meditation. I have my regular tea. Aidan got up at 4:30—we all went to bed at around 6:00—and is quietly having Great Grains cereal at the table under the yellow kitchen light reading one of his National Geographic Kids magazines. This was one of the things he missed and dreamed of returning to. Jennifer is out running her regular trail. It’s like the way you feel on a backpacking trip once you reach camp. You take off your backpack and feel like you are floating around the campsite. That’s how I feel right now. I feel like I’m floating around everywhere, like an orange-and-white clown wrasse, finning freely through his great colorful coral reef called home!
The only worry is that just now while I was writing this, Kellen has woken up vomiting. He’s thrown up three times. We hope it’s just some left-over motion sickness, but we’ll watch him carefully. And, happily, we feel capable of caring for him now that we’re back home, either alone or with his regular doctor, the wonderful Dr. Nina Jorgensen. And he does seem better, now that he’s had some carbonation in an Izzy.
So, our return trip went so smoothly. We had anticipated possible trouble at many points, but all went well. We left Pune in a car on Friday morning, at 9:00, as our flight was scheduled to depart Mumbai at 1:10, a.m., Saturday morning. Actually, we left in TWO CARS! We had four people, eight suitcases, four backpacks, and Indian cars tend to be small. We told our Fulbright friends at the United States India Education Foundation about or load, and Sachin wrote back saying he was gong to send two cars! How embarrassing!
Our favorite driver, Kumar, and his friend in the second car, arrived two hours early, having driven the three hours from Mumbai to Pune.
I took the family over to the Mandir (my guru’s ashram) and we said goodbye to my dear friends there, the elderly women sisters, Manu and Bharati (the “Mother Superior”), Shankar, the eighty-something administrator, Sumesh, who had helped us at the hospital, Balji and his wife, the workers who walked with me around the mandir every morning chanting the “Hanuman Chalisa,” and the blissed-out Dipti, a young woman with short dark hair and an ever beaming smile. We walked around the gardens. I felt heartbroken having leaving. A huge part of me feels that the ashram is my spiritual home. A part of me could stay and live there. During our last days in Pune, I didn’t go over to the ashram, staying busy with making arrangements to leave. Once I did go over, I realized I had been avoiding the sadness of saying goodbye.
I felt my guru’s presence there so sweetly, so strongly. But I feel that presence with me all the time everywhere. There’s no loss there. And being in the presence of my friends, the monks and nuns, my brothers and sisters even for a few moments is nourishment enough to last a lifetime. Time and space have no meaning in the realm of the spirit. A few moments with a realized being can transform your life forever. And though I would have liked to have remained with them much longer, being in the presence of such highly evolved persons for even a short time restores the soul at its deepest core. You feel refreshed, renewed.
Good-bye, Mandir. Good-bye, India.
And—-I am so thrilled to be home!