Last Tuesday I posted a list of some of the things that make an MK (Missionary Kid) unique. Some of them are a little serious, most make me smile, all are either parts of me or parts I can understand in other MKs. The MK whose blog I got the idea from had recently posted on a less light-hearted aspect of the Missionary Kid life, which rang true with me in so many ways, even ten years after I left the field. It reminded me of the following poem I had written, so I decided to share it with you.

Written April 28, 2011, for a writing class at community college

(Revision of) Standing by a red dirt airstrip

Gathered at the small mission airport
The week after high school graduation,
Waiting to say the goodbyes to our closest friends.
The pilot in his two-toned blue uniform calls the warning for loading
And the last round of hugs starts,
Companioned by quiet tears, and sometimes shaky laughter.
I stand watching as one more piece of the mortar
That had been holding my life together gets on the plane.
Gleaming white, wearing its blue stripes and black call letters with pride,
The small plane pauses at the top of the airstrip one last time.
Then the engine revs, cranking up the tension like a sonic slingshot band pulled back.
The invisible hand releases, the propellered missile launches
Down the ribbon of red clay, skyward over kunai-grass green hills.
Standing to the side, we wave as much for our sakes as theirs.
I remain, watching until it clears the ridge at the end,
Like watching until the car turns the corner at the end of the block.
Days later, alone in the dark,
I cry so hard I can’t breathe – for a whole world lost,
For friends I will never see again,
For a life I cannot return to.
Eventually time gives me distance enough
That the pain fades to arthritis of the heart –
Sometimes I remember standing by a red dirt airstrip and it aches.

small blue & white plane taking off from dirt airstrip

Photo credit: Craig Campbell, 2001


About Ruth

I am a Missionary Kid (MK) enjoying navigating this life with the unique viewpoint that has given me.
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3 Responses to Ache

  1. John Gossner says:

    Actually, a major portion of your father’s family has experienced the same thing as part of their military life. Leaving friends is hard; staying while friends leave is even harder. But it is part of life. You have to move on and not let it cripple you. There are new friends and places to enjoy.


    • Ruth says:

      Yes, I remember it being a bit mindblowing when I realized somewhere in my highschool years that Dad had been through this before.
      You are right about healing and continuing on – that got compacted to the last three lines of the poem; when I tried to put it all in the poem got too rambling, so I decided to focus more on the moments and feelings of leaving and less on the afterwards. The key word in the last sentence is “Sometimes” – it doesn’t hurt all the time anymore like it did for the first year. Just sometimes I remember…


  2. Aunt Susan says:

    My dearest Ruthie! That was simply beautiful! I love you!


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