Peace Corps Writers
You Can’t Pick Up Raindrops (page 3)

You Can’t Pick Up Raindrops

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     We finish the strong coffee and small tray of cookies offered to us as we sit in the best chairs they have. Working up my nerve, I say, “I guess it’s time for the picture.” Hoping to get out of the whole thing I add, “There is not enough light in here. I can’t take the picture.”
     Cirilito picks up the light burden in her small coffin and carries it outside to the open front porch. “Dulce, come here and stand next to me. Yes, with the baby between us.”
     There they stand, coffin propped upright against the two of them. The baby looks at me with her blue eyes, her mouth open slightly. She is a waxen angel!
     It is an old pre-SLR camera, but it has a high quality lens. It is the one that has traveled with me to many places. Looking through the sighting window, I frame Cirilito and Dulce with their baby, the rest of the family crowding into the picture from the sides.
     Bob says in a low voice, “I can’t believe what Manny and his brothers and sisters are doing.” However, it is a natural thing; folks here love to have their picture taken. Cirilito and Dulce say nothing; he just looks into my lens with his solemn face and she with her sweet sad smile. Click. Then, a second click to make sure. Later I will give them copies of the photographs.
     As Bob and I walk back along the pathway he keeps saying, “That was really weird. Did you see Manny and the others crowding into the picture? I wanted to shake them to pieces.”
     “Bob, there was more there than you saw. The living children were the loving frame to the sadness of Cirilito and Dulce. They did not care what was happening; they would be getting a photograph of the angel they would never see again. They won’t have to try to pick up raindrops and put them in a glass. Their glass is full.”
     “What are you talking about?”
     I didn’t try to explain it to him.

IN THE LATE AUTUMN of 1964, I am back from two years of Peace Corps service. Mom and Dad met the Fernández family when they visited me on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary trip, so it was fun showing them my slides and pictures.
     I tell Mom the story about Cirilito and Dulce and show her the pictures. There is a slight, very pleased smile as I show her the photographs of the Fernández family. She smiles and her eyes sparkle with a bit of wetness. It is almost as if it is 1946 again, but different, better.

John Miller was in a well drilling group as a PCV, then earned a masters degree in geology at the University of Missouri. He has worked in the field for 38 years, including eight years of hydrogeological employment in Puerto Rico, Panama, Mexico, Peru, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. He is now writing a historical novel and living in Tampa, Florida.
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