Mercy Among Children tells the story of Sydney, a man who was separated from his family for various reasons and who had to find ways and means to fend off the loneliness that was beginning to consume him.
He had a sense of sadness that comes from the pit of the stomach, that aching for familiarity that he knew to be homesickness. It was difficult for him to be away from his family for so long. It was later on that he discovered that by reading books, he could feel that he was no longer alone.
He was a proud man. He would never admit to others that he missed his family, nor that he wanted to go home. Instead, he hid his homesickness by reading books. The books broke his sense of isolation. His character explained within the story that when one is reading books:
… you are not alone — even along this broken tractor road. You need to know nothing else. (Mercy Among The Children)
Whether he admitted it to himself or not, he missed his family. To quote from the story itself:
… he was ready to go home. He would walk nine miles out to the highway and catch the bus back to the Miramichi. Tomorrow night he would be with Elly again. he would hold and kiss Percy. He thought of the miles ahead of him and they seemed an insult; he wanted them to be gone in a second. (Mercy Among The Children)
The longing for the love and care of his family was the source of his homesickness. Yet he tried to stay away for three long years so he could provide a better future for them. He sacrificed his personal happiness for them.
Homesickness was a perennial illness for him and he knew that the only cure was to finally go home to the people he cared for and loved him back. Now, Sydney found himself ready and very much excited to go home, and go home he did.
Being a student who is currently living in a foreign land, I find mysel ffully identifying with the sadness that Sydney felt. Sometimes, homesickness becomes unbearable,. Even though I know that I am doing this for my and my family’s future, it does not lessen the pining that I have for my family.
This was a new world for me. It was world where I barely spoke and understood the language, nor did I have any friends. Time has not changed my longing for the presence of my family in my daily life.
Now I realize that the saying “You never know what you had till you lose it” is true. I used to take my mother and father’s care for granted. I got so used to having them there for me all the time that it has become almost impossible for me to adjust to life without them, without the creature comforts that home offered me.
In this world, I make do with phone calls to my family, hearing their words of love and comfort that are meant to keep me strong — but only weaken my resolve not to miss them in the process. These days, I do not have the unconditional support of my family to fall back on. I am constantly surrounded by people and yet I feel so alone and lonely.
I guess it is already obvious that just like Sydney in the story, I am consumed by homesickness and wish for nothing more than to finally go home to the loving embrace of my mother and father. The only thing that gives me the strength to go on with my life here, is the knowledge that eventually, I will be back home in Cambodia, and my homesickness will finally come to an end.
It is not easy to be homesick. It takes a lot of effort to get through the day when you are dealing with it. But just like Sydney, you will find a way to make the loneliness go away. Then it won’t hurt so much and you can have a semblance of a life. Until the time comes when you can finally go home.