When it was time for all the little children to go to bed most of them scurried ahead of us to their room, but the few who were seeking comfort in the arms of someone who actually loves them stayed behind.
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There was a child lingering at my side, holding his hand on my leg to keep contact with me, to make sure I wasn’t just a dream. I scooped him up, now making eye contact with him as his legs wrapped around my hip.
Those of us holding children departed from the group to carry them to their room. Some of the others had them laid out between two arms like the victim of a strong current pulled out of ocean waters.
We finally reached the top of the stairs, their room. They slept in the same clothes they had played and sweated in that day, in sleeping bags on the dirt floor.
The children knew their cue, and leaped down from the arms of the others to snuggle into the sleeping bags next to their friends. Except mine was still in my arms.
“Donde esta tu habitacion?” I choked out in Spanish. He pointed across the courtyard and I understood that he was too old for this room by a year or two, that he did not belong here, that he just wanted to be with me.
When we reached the bottom of the stairwell, I let him go in the middle of the courtyard so that he could run to the group of older boys and be safe with them. I have much more to do, much more to learn, before I go back.