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Diarist I69 Day 22

Diary Day 

May 12, 2023 

My alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. I got out of bed, got dressed, and went to take B.C. to her to surgery. B is the mom of the refugee family (C) who I have been working with for more than a year. We drove through the early morning darkness to the hospital in Anderson in silence because communication in English does not come easily for her, she was nervous about the surgery, and I’m not a morning person. After I got her checked in, they whisked her away to prepare for surgery. I sat in the cold waiting room, turned off the loud TV playing a wrestling show, and tried to drown out the soft rock music in the background hoping for some sleep. A cleaning woman tried to engage me in conversation, “So, are you from Anderson?” My eyes were closed. I was not in the mood to chat. “No,” I said wishing her to go away. After several attempts to engage me, she moved on. A nurse came to get me 45 minutes after B checked in and I went to sit with her and to say good-bye before the surgery. Then I left, which was a mistake.  

I went home and fell asleep. The surgeon called to tell me she was out of surgery, and we could visit her in a few hours. I did not rush back. I thought she was supposed to have recovery time before visitors. I went to pick up her husband and another family friend from Afghanistan and we drove to Anderson.  

I entered her room first with a big smile on my face, happy to see my friend out of surgery. The men followed me in. B began speaking wearily in Pashto and the friend, who speaks English (unlike either of the Cs), informed me that she was upset that we had not come sooner. She anxiously awaited our arrival staring at the door, willing us to walk through it. She would repeat several times over the next few hours that I should not have left the hospital to go home, that we all should have been there sooner. I could not understand what she said because I do not speak Pashto, but I heard her say my name several times. Of course, she wanted familiar faces around when she woke up. Though I believed we were not supposed to visit her right away, I nevertheless should have been there sooner. She told us that everyone was asking her where her family was. The men tried to joke around with her to no avail. Usually they banter and laugh easily, one of many reasons I love this family: their sense of humor. But she was understandably not in the mood for banter that day. I left after about an hour to pick up my daughter, “S” from school and told B I would return that evening with S later that evening.  

I picked up S and we stopped at Berrywinkle for frozen yogurt. Since Berrywinkle is next to Meridian pediatrics, we next stopped at Meridian so that I could drop off papers for the C family. Every three months we must submit paperwork so that medical institutions can legally release information to me and allow me to schedule appointments for them. I told S to wait in the car with our dog, that I would be back in 2 minutes. I came back 45 minutes later to an exasperated 11-year-old. I was frustrated, too. As I was dropping off the papers, one of the workers questioned me about a signature. B is pre-literate and only signs her first name and this posed a problem for the worker. I explained the situation, that we had been doing this for the last year, and she asked me about my role with the family. I explained that I had been working with them since they arrived in Muncie in March 2022 and then described my role, the role of other volunteers, and others who shall not be named, and the lack of a refugee resettlement system in Muncie. This conversation can be confusing if not frustrating because some people confuse organizations with systems (not this person per se). The worker and I agreed that we needed a longer conversation and I told her I would reach out to have lunch.  

I dropped S and the dog off at home and went to another meeting that I was 45 minutes late for due to the unexpected conversation at Meridian. At this meeting, I was kindly and gently warned that my form of community engagement was being questioned by some who shall not be named—not my engagement with refugees, but something else. At a meeting earlier this year, someone said that Muncie is said to be rich in resources but poor in systems and I have found it to be true.  

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to get frozen pizza for dinner and made it for S to eat in the car on our way to Anderson to visit B. B was sitting in the chair when we got there and looked exhausted. Nurses helped her into bed where she quickly fell asleep. We stayed another 45 minutes and then went home to watch a movie.