I share a lot of my heart. I share as much as I can because writing is how I “get it all out” but, believe it or not, there is much, much more that I don’t offer up on social media. There are a lot of reasons but probably the biggest is that even though I have many loving, open minded friends, judgment comes easy to those in the developed world. The questions I get in private messages are numerous… Why do the mothers wait so long to seek help? Why do they keep having babies they can’t afford? Why are people always asking for a handout. If I’m being honest, they are questions I have asked myself a million times over. I get the why’s because I have them too.
8 years here, and having grace drilled into me from an early age has given me the mindset that seeks real answers to these questions. Why DID she wait so long to seek help for her baby? Perhaps because “she” has never been valued enough to be taught to read or write, let alone given education on basic health and hygiene. Maybe “she” did everything she thought was best for her daughter, maybe “she” brought her to a clinic for a vaccine, the most loving thing a mother can do, only to be told that her daughter was very sick, and to find herself burying that baby girl just 24 hours later. Unless I am going to send the teacher into the depths, I have no room to judge. I have only room to love in the precious, raw open moments that I am given. And really, why does “she” keep having babies?? Maybe it’s because the choice of sexual contact is everything but. Maybe “she” has no say in when, where or how. Maybe “she” is just doing what she has to do. Maybe self control has nothing to do with it.
Last week I loved a baby girl with my entire heart but she was someone else’s entire world. Ketia was loved and treasured by her mom and dad and by her 3 older siblings. She was their joy, their everything. Her mom told me about her favorite songs. Her dad talked about the moments every morning when he got up with the baby before leaving for work, spooning food into her mouth and changing her diaper to give her mama a few more moments of sleep. They were normal! This was their every day life. Their life before they had to learn how to live broken.
Last Thursday Ketia was dying. I knew it when I held her in my arms. I begged and pleaded with God that He would change His mind but I knew that she was dying. That morning I had told her mom that it was ok to go home and that I would stay with her but within hours it was obvious to me that she was slowly leaving this earth. I put on a worship radio station, climbed into her bed and rocked and prayed with all of my might that she would hold on and wait for her mama to say goodbye. For hours I held her and sang and begged and fought with God. Most of all I desperately wanted her to wait for her mom to get back so that she could be the one to hold her in those final moments.
Finally, at about 6pm her mom and dad walked into the room. At this point Ketia had been unconscious for almost 3 hours, she had been “death gasping” for the past 90 minutes. I knew she didn’t have much longer and when they walked in they knew it too. We spent a few minutes all just gathered around this baby that we all loved and I finally told them about the reality of the situation. I explained to them the doctors prognosis, my own understanding of the situation and the options that were available to them. Her mama and daddy were so brave. They listened intently and they asked questions about everything. They asked what a tube for breathing would mean, what it would do for her, what it would do to her. They asked, with all sincerity, what her life from now on would look like. They asked if it would hurt her, they asked if she would cry. The doctor explained everything in the a way that I will always love him for. He was kind and honest and he told them simply the truth and in the end they decided that sweet Ketia had cried enough, that she had had enough hurt. Her parents decided that they did not want her to be intubated or resuscitated when the time came for her to go. They decided what what best for her, even though it was what hurt them the most. They loved their baby one last time.
After the decision was made I invited her mom and dad to come to the bed to hold and be with her and that was the exact second that Ketia decided to open her eyes, one last time. She looked up into the faces of the 2 people that she knew by heart and as soon as she saw her daddy, she smiled a great big smile. I had never seen her smile before. In that second, that wasn’t for me, she stole yet another pice of my heart. Ketia’s mom and dad spent time praying over her and I stood in the back of the room and I felt like an imposition. I was reminded, one more time that this wasn’t my pain, wasn’t my story. I have their permission to share it and I do, but not for me. Not so that people will tell me how sorry they are for me. I tell it because Ketia died, and that is a tragedy and the only thing more tragic would be if she died and it didn’t matter. I will fight, as long as I have breath, to make sure that Ketia matters, that she isn’t forgotten. That one more child lives, because she did not. I will fight for Ketia and I will fight for a mother who lost her baby and a father who’s light was stolen away.
They are why I will fight.
What if the mama who waited too long was just doing the best she knew? What if the one who kept having babies didn’t have a choice, but loved her children fiercely despite their circumstances? What if the only hand out they really wanted was a hand up, and the only thing they needed was a willing heart to embrace the ugly and hard in anticipation of the beauty that is lying, just beyond our sight?