I was reminded the other day by one of my students that I have not really told on my blog what happened with Anna. I don’t look back through what I have written so I will take his word for it. In thinking about what I would write if I were to tell Anna’s story, I began a different sort of post, one which took me back to a description of the place where we lived. I began writing about what Indonesia is like, about the seasons and the change from rainy to dry season that takes place around April. I began describing what the colors of the rice fields, the sky, and the huge clouds are like. I described what it is like living in the shadow of a volcano. It began getting long (as this post will, quickly) yet I thought it necessary because in telling Anna’s story of May 7, I have to tell the story of May 6, and May 5, and I have to tell the story of Anna’s last birthday in Solo, and of Sam’s last Indonesian birthday at the coffee plantation. I have to tell about Ibu Soleka and Pak Sugi and our dogs and our cats and the snails and the butterflies and the rambutan tree and the salak bush and Anna’s friends and . . .
You see, the events of May 7 are closely related and are inseparably intertwined with our whole existence in Indonesia, and you have to know about Anna’s love of books and music and dancing. You have to know about the Kleins and the Shipmans and the Hahns and the Hrabars. You have to know about Uncle Paul and Aunt Lucy because without them, the story of May 7 can’t be told. In fact, as I am writing now, the memories and emotions are being to overflow the levees that are built around them. Some of the cracks are beginning to give way.
Yet, how can I tell her story without introducing all of this? How can I tell her story without you knowing about Indonesian neighbors and neighborhoods. About funerals in the home. About neighbors that come by the dozen and sit all evening in your front yard and bring trucks with chairs and awnings and have a small pavilion set up at your house within hours.
But I suppose that above all else, in order to know and understand the events of May 7 you have to know the little girl, Anna. You have to know of the passion with which she lived her life. You have to know the brilliance, to feel the palpable joy and exuberance of her smile. You have to know the depth of her sorrow and compassion as she prayed for relatives and other loved ones who were sick or who were lost without knowledge of her Lord. You have to watch her as she struggles through teaching herself to play a Mozart sonatina on the piano, or sing “The Silver Swan”, or recite a Shakespeare soliloquy.
You have to know what it is like to enter her bedroom and see the books . . . always the books. And see the Bible written on her walls in large laminated sheets. With the most helpful parts near her pillow where she can see them at night when she gets scared. Where she has drawers and drawers full of her treasures. Little scraps of cloth, pieces of string, dead and dessciated bug shells, dried flowers, rocks, cheap jewelry. Each item with a memory, many only Anna would ever know.
And you would have to know her Lord, about whom she would say as she lay on her bed, “I just love him so much.” And to whom she would sing love songs, quietly and without her earthly father knowing about it because she knew I didn’t like those songs. (I weep now thinking about how I told her not to sing “I walk in the garden alone . . .” Where did I ever hear, who told me that that song reflected an inappropriate attitude towrads Jesus? Who spoiled that song for me, and made it so that my daughter had to sing it in private?). You would have to know how much she wanted to see Jesus. To be with him. To be done with this world.
[continued in May 7, part 1]