Mar 20, 2012

A day that still has me thinking.....

A day that still has me thinking.....

So today was a rough day. We went to the funeral of one of our young patients. Levonsline was a little girl about 6 y/o with physical and developmental delays that had been coming to therapy for about 6 mos. When she first started coming to therapy we she was not able to walk or talk and had significant behavioral outburst. She did not like to be touched but would happily crawl on the floor and play until you tried to get her to do something and then she would throw herself down on the ground and hit and scream. We knew there were significant behavioral and sensory concerns that needed to be addressed but all mom wanted her to do was to be able to walk so she could go to school. So that is what we decided to address despite thinking there were much greater concerns to address first.

I am still baffled but after 3 months or so of therapy Levonsline was able to walk. God had decided it was time because I myself would have never guessed it would have happen that quickly. It was not always a stable walk but she managed to get from point A to point B and had a smile on her face. She even had started to repeat a few words, engage with other children appropriately and sit and attend to a task for several minutes. This was huge because before she was always like a ping pong ball all over the place, unable to focus or attend let alone sit for any length of time. Her body was always in constant uncontrolled movement. 

Last Wednesday her and her mom had showed up to therapy. She busted on into the gym with a big smile on her face looking to see what she could get into. Afterwards I remember watching her walk away over the rocks and gravel with ease thinking how AWESOME is that…. she once had no control of her body and is now navigating over the dirt and rocks with no problem.  We do serve an AWESOME God.

Thursday morning her mom showed up and stated she almost died in the night. She did not know what was wrong but when Jeanie saw her she was not herself. It took Jeanie and her mom to hold her down while they put an IV in her arm before transporting her to the local Children’s Hospital. We got word the next morning that she had died of cholera. Something that is so preventable but has taken so many lives here. 

This morning Jeanie and I set out to the Children’s Hospital to go to what we thought was the funeral service. I figured the hospital must do something for the families when they have little money. After waiting with 4 other family members for 2 hours we finally got shuttled outside into a tap tap. In the tap tap were two other people one small bag marked universal precautions and a cardboard box shaped like a small casket. I quickly realized we were transporting two small bodies with us to what I now assumed was the burial sight. I have used cardboard and duck tape to do a lot of things here in Haiti but the sight of the cardboard coffin will not quickly be forgotten. When we arrived to the old funeral ground outside PAP the 6 of us that knew Levonsline and the other two that must have known the child in the cardboard box filed out and stood by the gate. After a few minutes a gentleman who looked like he had been digging dirt walked past us out to the tap tap and threw the plastic bag with Levonsline and the cardboard box with the other child on his head and started off walking to the back of the cemetery. No one said anything but just followed. I will never forget the sound as the guy just dropped the two bodies to the ground as if they were a sack of potatoes and picked up his pick ax and started digging. Next to him another man had a shovel and was digging as well.  In my mind I was trying to process what was happening as no one said anything.  As I prayed I felt a peace knowing Levonsline is now in Heaven where she can walk and talk and have full control over her body.  I believe God has a connection with these special children that come to teach us so much even though they can’t talk or process things as we do.  I believe what was in that bag was not Levonsline as she is in Heaven, but it still hurt to see someone just disregard what was a person and throw them around as if they were nothing. After about 5 mins of watching these men dig without saying a word everyone began to leave.

Jeanie and I rode with the father on the moto home as he took us by Levonsline’s mom’s house. She had not attended what I guess you could call the funeral. There she sat in a dark room on a mattress gesturing for us to come sit. Between her tears she just kept repeating she is dead ,she is dead, she will not walk or have therapy again. She is completely finished. My heart broke because at this moment I questioned if her mom believes in God or heaven.  Where do you find that peace when you don’t have God to believe in. Is it just over in her mind? I did not know how or what to say in the moment but instead just sat comforting and listening to her. Before leaving we asked her to come by the clinic next week and see us. Not sure if she has left the house since Levonsline’s death. It was one of those days where you know you are in the right place but have no idea why you are there. I am not sure what the lesson is in all of this but it is one day I know Jeanie and I will not forget.