I have sat down to write this post what feels like a thousand times. Each time all of the feelings I had built up inside of me suddenly lose their words and all that is left is this ache. This quickly swirling pool of emotions. How do I adequately process how I feel while still honoring all parties involved including the precious girl who will otherwise fade into a distant memory? It has taken me many days for it to be well with my soul instead of desperately wanting someone to pay for the tragedy that was her death. The reality is that it isn’t one person’s fault for her death, but that doesn’t make me feel better. Some days I have this intense guilt. The kind of guilt that makes me feel like I am partly to blame for the fact that she will never draw another breath here on earth. No matter what I did to try to help, I could have always done a little more. Some days I want to let it eat at me. I want to let the intense sadness wash over me like waves because in a way I feel that it is my punishment for the part I feel I played in her death.
I suppose the hardest part to deal with is not the who or the how or the why, it’s the where. Everyone has heard the quote that says “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” What that quote fails to ask is “if a tree falls in a forest and the only ones around to hear it will never be able to tell about it, does it make a sound?” For some reason, a frail little life was breathing her last surrounded by the only family she has ever known, 6 others just like her who cannot walk or communicate their wants, hurts, and needs. Why, oh why would God subject them to that? I have so many questions that I have been wrestling with to the point that I find myself unable to sleep through the nights lately. Did she make any noise? Did it happen while she peacefully slept? Were the rest of the kids awake? Did they know it was happening? Was she laying there screaming out for help as they silently looked on unable to do anything? Do the things they saw that night play over and over in their heads? Are they still able to sleep okay at night? Do they even realize she is gone? How do you even process witnessing a traumatic death with 6 little individuals who have varying degrees of severe special needs?
Thinking about all of these things just makes me angry. She never would have even been there if she had never been abandoned all of those years ago alone in a hospital. She would have gone straight from her mother’s arms into the loving arms of our Savior instead of lying in a bed alone with no one to comfort her while she was dying. She may have never even gotten to the point of death if someone had come alongside her mommy to teach her what a gift she had been given rather than an unmanageable burden. Maybe she never would have gotten down to 22lbs at the age of 7 years old if she hadn’t been one of the ones to “slip through the cracks” during a pretty nasty custody battle.
I could spend all day mulling over the regrets and recounting the sadness that surrounded every aspect of Belinda’s death, but here’s what I do know. Because of Christ’s great love for us, Belinda was never truly “forgotten.” She has felt true love on this side of heaven. Her birth mommy felt that she loved her child so much that she herself was too inadequate to accept the challenge of raising her so she gave her up with hopes for a better life. Belinda was loved with every fiber of Yemima, Dwinie, David, Anna, Catinie, and Lape’s being because they knew no different. She was truly cherished by her nanny Rose Laure who knew what it meant to daily pour love into these 7 beautifully “broken” children because each and every one of their lives matter. Love is each and every painstaking spoonful of blended spaghetti dropped into her mouth even if it took over an hour to finish a child size portion of food. All because Rose Laure knew she was worth it. So many of those that met her, loved the stuffins out of her because they saw her the way Jesus saw her. Best of all, right now, right this very second, every single inch of that beautiful baby’s body is healed. Every single scar has been renewed, every single hurt, every single pain, the effect of every single seizure has been wiped away and her body has been made completely new as she is dancing with the Father. Belinda now gets to live with her Daddy, and gets to dance, and run, and play. Which is far more than we could have ever imagined for her here on earth.
My first Haitian funeral was for a 7 year old little girl. A child I have known for 5 years. A child I have seen blossom and grow. The day of her funeral was one of the most beautiful days we have had in a long time. Her funeral was held in a tiny church near the ocean. Standing in the doorway of that tiny church, I could still feel the warm sunshine on my back and the salty air coming off of the ocean in my hair as I entered a dark and heavy room filled with sadness so thick it could be cut with a knife. In the back of the tiny church laid a young woman who was in the process of meeting her Maker. In the front was a little bright blue coffin that had plastic silver handles nailed into the sides with tin nails. Obviously due to Haitian time being a thing, I was the first to arrive even though I was 35 minutes late. I didn’t know what to do. So I sat in the front of the church in front of Belinda’s coffin, which was about 5 feet away from the dying girl on the floor in the back. The pastor and her parents were alternating between praying for her and crying out in agony. It was a weird place to be. But up in the front of the church next to the little blue box, it was weirdly peaceful. Eventually the young woman left her earthly body and the family began searching for a vehicle to come and remove her body. A couple of times I had to stand outside the church for a few minutes to regain my composure as the stench of death became more than I thought I could bear.
About an hour after I arrived at the tiny church, the funeral began. I looked around the room and children under the age of 12 made up 90% of those who were in attendance. My mind then shifted from grieving for the little girl in the blue box to grieving for each little body seated on those rickety benches in front of me. I grieved for their minds, their hearts, and their eyes. I grieved for the childhood had been robbed from them each time one of their brothers or sisters died. I grieved for the loss of innocence for they too felt the same weight of death pressing down on them as I felt inside those four cement walls. I so desperately wanted to envelope each and every one of them and never let go until I knew their world would be safe again. But the reality is, it won’t and I can’t. I could try with every fiber of my being but I am inadequate. Only God can comfort the hurting so deeply they begin to believe in His promises again and feel safe even when the rest of the world around them is crumbling. He would have to do that for each and every one of these kids. I have no doubt He will. His hand of protection can be seen all over their lives the past few years and He is not about to stop now. I can rest in knowing that.
I say all of that to say this. Death is hard in any country, for everyone, from every walk of life. I find what gets me the most is the death that is preventable being the hardest to swallow. The death that seemed otherwise unnecessary had a situation been different. This my friends, is why we are answering God’s call to start Promise Harbor Family Center. All children deserve to be loved and valued. A child should never be described as having been “forgotten” or “slipped through the cracks.” I will do everything in my power to empower families of special needs children to realize the value and the gift that they have been given. I will uplift them to strive for nothing but they best for themselves and the children God has given them. I will allow myself to be spent on behalf of my Savior so that children like Belinda do not even have to find themselves wasting away in institutions but rather surviving and thriving right in their own homes. Because of Belinda I will press on harder than ever towards following the call that has been given to me and march on in complete obedience to Christ.