There’s a painting in our hallway that says “Love will all your heart.”
And every March 20th, as I remember the life and death of my guapo friend Chon, I gravitate towards the quote that says “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” (C.S. Lewis)
Once again, last week, the rubber met the road and many hearts are being wrung.
Little Jesucito spent way too much of his early life in Nueva Esperanza, the government children’s home. Being a special needs child with hydrocephalus, his extra needs brought him less of the attention and care he needed from employees and volunteers. For quite some time he languished, until Lauren happily, and with some trepidation took the opportunity to bring him home and foster him. She loved him, cared for him, worked on long delayed milestones with him and then bureaucracy happened. The director of Nueva demanded that he be returned. (Insert lots of sarcastic comments about this making sense because she took suuuuuuch great care of the children she was in charge of.)
Lauren’s heart was wrung.
As his health worsened once again due to the neglect in Nueva, the director warmed to the idea of foster care once again, and Jesus was bounced around to various families who gave him a varied level of care. Some seemed to not care for him at all and there was more than once that I’d get word of his situation and think “Jesus, stop this boys suffering. Please take him home.”
And then Kacey. I don’t know enough of the why’s to do her story justice so I’ll just say that she was young and had this crazy idea that she could care for him. Two and a half years ago, she moved to Honduras and he became hers. These two and a half years haven’t all been easy and fun but the love between these two has been powerful. Jesus was not a job, he was not a project, this was not a temporary placement. He was her child and she fought tooth and nail for every service he received, every milestone he reached. And in those two and half years he became so much healthier. Sure, a change in the weather had more of an effect on him than it did on most children. But I very much repented of my secret thought that Jesus being with Jesus might be better than Jesus being with us.
Kacey works with an organization called Reach Our Orphanage Ministries (ROOM). They have created a beautiful sense of community in their homes and lives in which us in TCHP have been enveloped. Jesus was Kacey’s, but he had so many other cheerleaders. Again, not cheering because he was our job, our project. Cheering because he was loved and part of this life.
Last week, Jesus went down for a nap, and never woke up. Healthy strong warrior boy Jesus just didn’t wake up.
This makes no sense. This shouldn’t have happened. Three years ago, maybe. But now? Nope. Although I’m not in Honduras so many friends in that amazing community have been keeping me involved through messages and pictures of the various services to remember his life. My sadness is deep and much of it is knowing how broken, how wrung out are so many people I love.
But amidst the pain, there is a growing joy. A joy for Jesus. Not the ‘he’s running with Jesus and will never feel pain!’ type joy. Although, that’s also true. It’s the ‘look how broken so many strong people are over a boy no one knew about or cared existed half a decade ago.’
Losing someone you love is so incredibly painful. Lewis goes on to say “If you want to make sure of keeping it [your heart] intact, you must give it to no one…To love is to be vulnerable.” So many people I love could have been spared this pain if Jesus had just never entered their lives. But I’m sure every one of them who is reading this right now is crying out “But then I never would have experienced ________!” The time spent with Jesus was worth this pain. But seriously, five years ago, no one cared. Pitied him probably. But truly deeply loved him? No one.
This is the joy that I’m holding onto. This boy that the world deemed unloveable was ferociously loved. Loved so much that strong people are deeply broken. I so wish that he could have experienced 60 more years of that ferocious love. But I’m so so thankful that he had these years. That he had Kacey and Lauren and Luis and Cassie and all the Murray kids and and and and….This sucks so badly but all of this pain is evidence of one forgotten child that we will always and forever remember.