Morocco, Interrupted

To Ahmed

Dear Ahmed,

I know you are probably wondering where I went, and I am sorry it happened so suddenly. The last time I saw you was on the fifth of March, and if I knew that was the last day we would meet, it would have been an unimaginable final goodbye.

I was drawn to you as soon as you grabbed my finger on my first day in the La Creche Orphanage. You climbed up your crib just enough so your big brown eyes peered over the side. As we walked in, I watched as your eyes followed us and your hand reached out for someone to grab it and scoop you up. I reached down to hold your hand, unsure if I could pick you up, and it was at that moment you stole my heart.

I only saw you twice a week, and I thought I wasn’t making a huge impression on you since you saw nurses and other volunteers every day, but you noticed. I would come in and play Moana, Lion King, and Toy Story soundtracks and we would dance.  Dancing in the sense I would do funny dances around the room and you and your friends would bounce around your cribs, or I would toss you and tickle you in the middle of the song.

The first time I knew you liked me was during snack time. While I was feeding one of the infants, you sat drinking your bottle and eyeing me the entire time. I finished feeding the infant, and right away you put your arms up for me to pick you up. I lifted you by your hands so you could stand, but instead you ran into my arms with a big smile. I find myself often wondering what you do now that I am not there?

I wish I could have said goodbye, but we had been confined to campus. I had hoped we would stay in Morocco and eventually be able to do volunteering again, so I could see you and make sure you and your friends were being loved during this difficult time.

The virus had different plans. We were given two hours to pack and leave for Marrakech and catch a flight back to America. When we found out I could not stop crying. Crying because I love Douaa and Rania and didn’t want to leave them, crying because of the missed trips and other Moroccan adventures, and crying because of you. I was not ready to leave you, and I never said goodbye forever. All you know is that I never came back, and I wish I could see you one last time.

Unfortunately, I am writing to you from my bedroom in Massachusetts.

Since being back I feel useless. I sit in a room all day isolated from my classmates and my friends. I do nothing except homework or classes and eat. I can’t leave my house, but even if I could nothing is open. It’s been cold or rainy most days, so I can’t go outside to get a break from the boredom of my bed. I’ve moved so little that my body has made an indent in the mattress.

The worst day for me had been when it snowed last week. All I could think about was how one week earlier I was tanning on the roof of the beautiful academic building. I barely moved that day, and everything reminded me of where I should have been.

With all this time I find myself getting lost in a river of thoughts as they come and slowly pass. Being in quarantine reminds me of you a lot. I’m trapped in a room like you are in your crib. Do you feel this isolated when you are there like I do here?  Do you still get to go play or dance? I hope you do, and I hope you feel loved.

I hope to come back to Morocco someday to explore the city and go back to the orphanage. Maybe I will see you there, or maybe you will get adopted. If you are still there, you probably will not know me, but I will always know you. Stay healthy and safe.

Until I see you again,


Molly Cadogan is a Health, Wellness and Occupational Studies major at the University of New England.

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