Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1013

It’s been two years, and I still think about him. He was crushed, abandoned, and given up for dead on the lawn of an overwhelmed hospital in Port au Prince. When I saw him I had to take my emotion and place it in a box deep inside my center or I would have crumbled on the spot. He was naked, broken, barley conscious on a foil emergency blanket. I ran to mix him rehydration salts and fed him through a baby bottle. He couldn’t speak and his only identification was a number written in black marker on his bicep, 1013.


He was dying, 8 days had passed since the earthquake and everything in him was broken, legs, feet, hips, ribs, everything and he was alone. Dr. Bill gave him an I.V. and drugs for the pain. Then it was time to move him, 30 minutes East to Malpasse where doctors had taken over an orphanage and set up a temporary hospital. Bill held the I.V. bag and told me to pick the child up. I can only imagine the look on my face, “Won’t I hurt him?” I asked. “Yes.” He said. And that was that. Bill was the doctor, the best doctor I have ever known and I did what he told me to. I took the boy into my arms.

He was so light. He must have been 8 or nine, though he could have been older, children are so much smaller in Haiti. He groaned. I walked as lightly as I could to the car. I was in the passenger seat and Bill was behind me, the driver was a man I had never seen before and he brought a friend along for company I suppose. The five of us rode together down the rough rode toward the makeshift hospital in the Haitian countryside.

I held the child, still in his tin foil blanket, and whispered to him as he drifted in and out. It was all so wrong to me. I was angry. It should have been his mother’s face he saw, it should have been his father holding him, but he had me and my hairy, pale face looking down at him. It wasn’t right.

I was terrified he was going to die in my arms. Three times I thought he had died and then we would hit a bump and his bones would grind and his eyes would open to bulging and he would gasp from the pain. There were so many bumps and cruel pot holes, soon I was praying for God to take him. The road went on and on and then I was begging God to have mercy and end this suffering. I started to recite Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd….and as I stumbled through the words the car cleared the last concrete houses and I could see the clear, January fields and the mountains before us and on either side, and time stretched out and I felt how alive I was, really alive. I looked around and we were in the valley of death and dying, and I looked down at this boy and God showed up and He didn’t do as I pleaded but he showed me the child with His eyes and I saw my child and I sang to him.

We made it to the field hospital and I carried the child and began calling for help and from shoulder I heard Bill say “It’s ok Chris. It’s ok” and of course it wasn’t ok but it wasn’t an emergency, there was nothing anyone could do. I gave the boy to a medical student or a nurse and I just sort of lingered. I didn’t really understand what was going on and I don’t remember it clearly now but then Bill was leading me back to the car.

Two years later I traveled down the same road and through the same valley and there was singing again but this time it was the singing of 13 Haitian men and women on their way to the river to be baptized. I thought about the boy. I think about him all the time but now I replayed the memories through the drive and it all felt real again. And in that moment God showed up again and He did what He always does for me, He healed the broken bits inside of me.

C.S. Lewis once wrote “That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” I hold onto that and I pray for the child I think of as 1013. I pray that Jesus will wipe away every tear and heal all his brokenness and turn every bit of pain into a glory. I look forward to the day when I meet him whole and healthy as a brother in the presence of our King and he’ll tell me his real name and I’ll tell him mine. I thank God for placing me with him for that short time and allowing me to be his father.

1:01 AM

1/18/2012 Dargout, Croix des Boquetes, Haiti