If someone was to ask me to prove that I love my family, I would reply that such proof lies in the fact that I have not stepped onto a plane and set off for Bangladesh, never to return. It may not sound much, but it is.
I spent the weekend in Gloucester at a meeting of a group called LHCF. Despite Google’s search results, this does not stand for Long Hair Care Forum, nor does it stand for Large Hadron Collider Forward. No, in fact it stands for LAMB Healthcare Foundation.
Yes, it was a weekend focussing on the very place wifey, Things I & II and I left last December to return to the shores of England. LHCF is the British fundraising arm for LAMB and is fundamental to keeping the Poor Fund alive for the hospital there.
This is very important. Without the Poor Fund, life for the sick and infirm in the Northwest of Bangladesh would be very much worse. LAMB (which offers services for at least one million Bangladeshis in the area) never turns away any patient and all have access to good quality healthcare no matter how poor they are. In a particularly impoverished area of Bangladesh, this is quite literally, vital.
Wifey was invited to speak at the meeting to talk about the work she did for five years running the Rehab department and how the department has moved on. It was a pleasure to watch her talk with love and commitment for a place still painfully close to our hearts. Although the all-day meeting was well put together, and a wonderful day for many friends who have visited or worked at LAMB over the last thirty years to meet and share experiences with one another, for me the day was emotionally exhausting.
As talks were given with the ubiquitous powerpoint presentations, photo after photo of LAMB, its staff and the area around flashed in front of my eyes. Each and every one of them transported me straight back to Bangladesh. I was there, feeling the sun on my skin, speaking Bangla with old friends, soaking in the atmosphere, the life.
And I knew, then and there, that if I didn’t have a family I would have left the LHCF meeting, immediately gone to the nearest airport, bought a ticket and hopped on a plane to go back.
At times, I feel like a dementia patient. I have to keep reminding myself every day that this is where we’re meant to be right now; that there is a life here for my children; that my wife is doing good work here just as she does good work wherever she goes it seems; that – for better and worse – I’m simply not meant to be in Bangladesh. Maybe one day, maybe not ever, but certainly not now. It tears my heart apart, but it’s true nonetheless.
And so, instead of running for the airport, I shuffled away from the meeting – delighted, refilled, refreshed and yet just a little bit more broken at the same time.