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Sometimes, I’m that paranoid mom.
I try not to be, but sometimes, when its 5:20 in the morning and my child hasn’t made a peep all night long, I can’t help myself. I have to get up and check on him. I’ve got to not only see him, but lay my hand on his chest and make sure I can feel it rise and fall, even if I can hear him breathing.
I know I’m not the only person to do this, which makes me feel better about it.
Sometimes, though, I think I’m one of the few who worries on the walk from my room to his that I didn’t kiss him goodnight and have one last pre-bed cuddle. What if I open that door and, heaven forbid, he’s not alive? The last thing I will have done is squeezed his leg, and that’s not enough!
When I was in Africa, we had some pretty sick babies in our care.
A few weeks after I was there, one of them, little Tebello, died. She had been sick since I’d arrived, and her death wasn’t totally surprising, but it was still hard. And the only “good” pictures we had of her she looked really sick in.
So, when a little boy, Moketsi, suddenly spiked a high fever a few days later and was laying next to me, I pulled out my camera snapped a picture of him, and whispered, “now we have a good picture of you! Just in case…”
I don’t think its good for me to live in fear that something will happen to Colton, or to live in fear of him growing up. Chances are, he will grow up, marry, and have babies of his own, like most children do. Trust me, I don’t sit around contemplating this often.
But, I do think it is a good reminder to enjoy the moments we have while I can; enjoy him being little while he is little. Someday he won’t be little, and I want to enjoy these days while I have them.
Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day.
The summer after my sophomore year of college, I had the priveldge to travel to the southern part of Africa to work in a orphanage with AIDS affected children.
Not all of these children had HIV, but many of them did, or had at some point. What many people don’t know about AIDS/HIV, is that if a mother has AIDS, it doesn’t mean her child will definetly have AIDS.
AIDS is only transmitted three ways: through sex, blood, and breast milk. A child who is born to an HIV positive mother, is generally HIV positive at birth, but with proper nutrition, being fed formula, and (in some cases) antiretrovirals drugs, the child can be HIV negative by the time the 18 months old. 18 months is the cut-off — if you are not negative by then, you will most likely have HIV for the rest of your life.
Today, in America and other prosperous countries, HIV is not a death sentance. With proper management, you can live decades before you have full-blown AIDS. But, for the poverty stricken people of third-world countries like Africa, education and access to good nutrition and antiretrovirals, is difficult.
I’ve had people ask me why HIV positive children in third world countries deserve our help. I don’t have a rational answer other than: no one deserves to die without a chance, even if we know death is what will ultimatly happen. All of us will die. None of us know when. Why should a child, and infant suffer when they don’t have to? I can’t describe to you how heartbreaking it is to hold a suffering, dying child and know something could have been done.
Motsilisi, who passed away as a result of HIV only two short months after her birth.
Please, this December, learn more about AIDS and HIV, and find out what you can do to help raise awarness and support the search for a cure. Because everyone, American and African alike, deserves the change to live as full a life as possible.
I have wanted to write about something for years, and have not yet been able to do it. I started this post with the intention of writing about it, but spent most of it skirting around what I really wanted to say. I’ve decided to post the first part of what I wrote and post a second post next week. I need time to continue to write what I need to say, and I have the feeling this post would be entirely too long if it wasn’t broken up somehow.
In the summer of 2005 I was sent to serve in an orphanage outside of Maseru, Lesotho by the Virginia Baptist Mission Board’s Collegiate Missions program. I had spent ten days in 2004 in Kenya, and felt called to a ministry of love and compassion for two months. I knew deep in my heart, in that place where you know only God is speaking, that while I longed for this experience and would find it rewarding and satisfying, it would a time that would break my heart. I knew, before I even had a plane ticket, that I would see babies succumb to AIDs. I knew, and I went anyway. I knew, but I didn’t really understand.
I didn’t know that in 2009, almost four years later, the hurt in my heart would still be there, would be as real as if the events of that summer had happened yesterday, and what I imagined would be a season of pain would seem like it would not be a season, but something I would carry with me for the rest of my life.
I have seen great miracles. I have held a child who had been HIV+ positive during a second test – a second test that came back negative. I have held a child who was found in the streets by police officers, taken to a hospital where nurses declared her to be dead, and took her to the morgue. The police officers suspected the infant wasn’t actually dead, and pressed for doctors to examine her. This girl was not dead, but ALIVE. I have held a child born months too soon, malnourished and dehydrated, a child who should have died several times already, yet there he was, alive in my arms.
Miracle Angela, who nurses thought was dead.
But I have seen death too. I have held children, loved children, who are now held by Jesus. Cried when doctors said, “there’s nothing we can do. There’s nothing we WILL do.” Been broken-hearted when the hospital couldn’t even provide a dying child with aspirin to bring down her fever and relieve her pain. I have held, loved and kissed these children, seen their bereaved parents, and known that these precious babies rest with Jesus.
Sweet, sick little Tebello, now resting peacefully with Jesus.
Darling Motsilisi, who came to us the day of Tebello’s death, is with Jesus too.
I fell in love in Africa, with each of the 25 babies that came through our doors, desperately miss the one we buried while I was there, and the second sweet girl who was buried shortly after my departure. But, there was a tiny boy who captured my heart, and whom I love as I have never loved anyone else on earth.