Friday, May 9, 2008

a reason to cry

Augustus Jr. stepped on a nail last month. It killed him.
I was slowly pushing Augustus antibiotics when I learned his son had died about three weeks ago. His memorial service was the day before he was admitted to the ward for surgery.

Augustus was in an accident a few years ago that left his right arm deformed. He noticed that I am left handed and told me "I have been left handed for the past three years." By default I suppose. He had surgery to correct the arms position.

I felt so sad sitting at Augustus bedside as he told me about his son. Augustus Jr was 16 and his firstborn. He was a smart boy- already in the 10 th grade- and he planned on becoming a medical doctor. Your could tell Augustus was quite proud of him.

A few weeks ago he was walking through a construction site and he stepped on a nail. The nail might have cause an infection or possibly tetanus, Augustus didn't know. All he knew was that Augustus Jr. became very sick and a few days later died. When you don't have any access to health care you die from things like stepping on nails. It's a tragedy.

I asked Augustus if he had a photo of his son. He had a relative bring one in. Tonight I walked to the ward and was handed a program from the memorial service. On the cover was a photo of Augustus Jr. He looked like a regular happy 16 year old boy.

Augustus had me flip to the back of the program. In color copy ink there was a photo of Augustus Jr. when he was a small boy receiving an award in school and a photo of him with his little brother.

There are things in life that are universal. The acute pain caused by the death of a child is one of them.

I told Augustus I was so sorry for his loss and that his son looked like a wonderful boy. I told him that God knows His pain; He watched His Son die, and that He is the only one who could touch his heart. Grief is an independent journey. We can offer ourselves to those who grieve but it is a gross misconception to think we can in anyway understand their pain or emotions.

Although he was teary eyed, Augustus said he trusted God. He knew he would see his son again.

The faith of the Liberian people always amazes me. They have seen so much hardship and yet they remain unbitter. I would be bitter. It's humbling.

I promised to keep Augustus and his family in my prayers.

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