Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Promise To Keep

Last week I told you all of a journey I would go on this past Tuesday. I feel like now is the time for me to share with you about that day. Tuesday September 30th was the 2nd birthday of our sweet baby Berlancia who died this past August. To celebrate her life and our memories of her, I went with Melanie, our update coordinator and Susan, our nurse who was with B the day she died, on a long walk ending at the cemetery where Berlancia and the other babies who have passed away at GLA are buried. This was very much a bittersweet day for me. My goal in all of it being to celebrate the joy that Berlancia brought in her life, and to celebrate the fact that now she is exactly where she belongs. However the day was also filled with sadness at the life cut short, and the ones she left behind.

For those of you who don't know, Berlancia died of AIDS. She inherited the disease from her birth mother, who perhaps by now has also been claimed by the sickness. Berlancia was just a baby, her virus was not caused by a choice in her lifestyle, like 16,000 other people in Haiti this year, she died. She died because she was born to a mother infected with HIV. What is worse, Berlancia died without a mommy holding her. There were many people who cared about Berlancia, she was blessed for most of her life with caretaker who loved her with all of her heart. She knew her love, but she was not a permanent family for her. She had an amazing family in Vermont who had chosen to welcome her into their home, but before she could spend even a moment in their arms, she was taken. All of those people felt the sadness of losing such a special little girl. She touched each of their lives along with many others. There were GLA employees who knew her since she was a tiny baby. Those who watched her grow. There were volunteers who had worked with her, or who had seen her on the balcony day to day. A baby like Berlancia was impossible not to notice. The lives she touched are countless and still she died in a heartbreaking way. In a place where, although she was loved, could never replace a true home. There are 190,000 people in Haiti infected with the AIDS virus. 17,000 of them are children. More than 15,000 will die this year. Haiti is only 800 miles away from Florida. Less than 2 hours by plane and yet it is a world away. Babies like Berlancia, who are born to families torn apart by this disease, are dying, while I sit in my home and try not think about it. Well, I can't not think about it anymore. AIDS in Haiti has a face, with big brown almond shaped eyes and a squealing, innocent laugh that is impossible to forget. I will never be the same.

On Tuesday before we left I spent some quiet moments alone, remembering B and preparing my heart for what was to come. I decided that what I would really like to do is to write a letter to Berlancia telling her what her time with me had meant. Since I leaned of Berlanci's death AIDS in Haiti, especially in the babies of this country, has been placed on my heart. I have found myself researching the statistics of the disease and it's impact on the children of Haiti. I have found a passion for this subject that I have felt only once before in my life, in my call to God's Littlest Angels. Over the course of that call I have learned that God's plans are amazing and I have learned to put my trust fully in Him. I have no idea where this new journey will lead me but I am open to whatever that will be. Every child, being healthy or sick deserves to have a family. Weather they will be with them for a short time, or for many years to come, they should be held, they should be rocked to sleep at night in the arms of someone who loves them and they should never have to be alone. A child who has HIV is a child, they are all the same. I have seen the wonder in their eyes at blowing bubbles and birthday candles. I have seen them cry when they fall down. I have seen them laughing and I have seen them lonely. In everything they are just children, like the ones you will tuck into the beds of your home tonight. But so many of them are alone. They are waiting for someone to chose them. To give them a chance at love. The promise I made to Berlanci in the letter I wrote to her was that I would never forget her life and that I would use the memories of her to inspire me to work for babies like her. I don't know yet what my work will be but I know that the life of Berlancia will impact me until the day I die. In Creole the word for hope is espwa. That is what I have, hope for the children of Haiti who are being torn apart by this virus. Hope that they will have a future. Berlancia's hope lies in my heart and will be a reality one day. There is a song that I came across this week that touched my heat, reminding me mostly of B but fitting for all the children who are suffering from AIDS. It is called Never Be Forgotten.

Never Be Forgotten
I’ll always see your face
The corner of your smile
And all the little things that no one will ever know
Like it was yesterday, won’t ever fade away
Goodbye is just a word that I will never say

You will never be forgotten
A million days could pass us by
But what is time but just a dream
Oh I still feel you here with me
You’re more than a memory
Oh you will never be forgotten

I can‘t hold your hand
Or look into your eyes
And when I talk to youIt just echoes in my mind
But If hearts are made of dust
And if we fell from the stars
I look up tonight and know just where you are

You will never be forgotten
A million days could pass us by
But what is time but just a dream
Oh I still feel you here with me
You’re more than a memory
Oh you will never be forgotten

And the world just keeps on going
It has no way of knowingThat you’re gone

You will never be forgotten
A million days could pass us by
But what is time but just a dream
Oh I still feel you here with me
You’re more than a memory
Oh you will never be forgotten

Berlancia will never be forgotten and through her I believe many lives we be changed and many will be saved. Please pray for this cause. I believe this is just the beginning of Berlancia's Espwa .


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