Friday, July 6, 2012

Goodbye Annie

The kids being kids...Annie is pictured here in the blue shirt.

Evalyn and her beautiful family in 2009

This week we learned that our friend, Evalyn, has lost her third eldest daughter. When we were in Mulenga just over a month ago, the first home we went to visit was Evalyn's. We had heard that Annie was very sick and when we arrived, we were met by two of her sisters who, although very happy to see us, were definitely looking very strained and saddened. When we went in to their home to see Annie, we knew why.  While Evalyn was at work during the day, Memory and Prescovia were care givers to their dying sister. There wasn't a lot they could do to make Annie comfortable or pain free so they just spent their time with her, praying for her and watching over her.
Home visits are difficult at the best of times but when you know the patient before she was sick, to walk into a room and see her in such a weakened state, it took my breath away. I was acutely aware that the boys were with me and experiencing it alongside me. I sat and held Annie's hand for a long time. I can remember how her hand felt in mine even now. When I left the room I didn't know if I would even see her the next time I was in Mulenga, just a few days later. We were able to see her once more and thankfully, she was even a little more responsive the second time. Again, I just knelt by her and held her hand. When I said goodbye the last day we were in Mulenga,  it was difficult. I knew it was our final goodbye. I knelt beside her and kissed her head and rubbed her back and told her how much we loved her. How Kim loved her. How we missed her when we were apart.  She squeezed my hand and whispered her words back to me and we left her there,  knowing it was the last time we'd see her in Mulenga.  Looking back, I'm thankful that we were able to spend time with Annie when she was well.  I can remember her laughing.  I remember her goofing around with Ashley and Prescovia.  My sister in law had stayed with this family while we were in Mulenga the first time. It's a friendship that still means so much to all of them. In fact, when we arrived, someone ran to fetch Ashley, the son of the family, and he came running home thinking Kim had arrived! He was only mildly disappointed to see us...and happy to meet Kim's brother! (Jason)
My heart physically hurts today thinking about this beautiful family with such a gap in their midst.
Many of us don't even realize what we've lost in the death of such a girl as Annie.
What we lose every day throughout Africa.
We lose a lot of "if only's" and "could have been's" and "should have been's"...not the ones born of regret out of not doing something you could have or should have...the ones born out of never having had the chance to.
I can't ask you to mourn what you didn't know you lost.
I can ask that you remember Annie today and maybe just a few days going forward, and when you do, do the things that you can do and should do. There's enough of those lost in the world without us adding to them.

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