How do you say goodbye to a sponsored child who has died? Have you ever had to do that, or to say goodbye to another child in your life?
As with many things, there’s often the thought, “Oh, that won’t happen to me. That sort of stuff only happens to other people.” Then the world shook in Haiti and changed our perspective.
But children don’t just die or get injured in earthquakes. They die from malaria and AIDS. They die from diarrhea and other preventable causes. They die in childbirth and in accidents. And when they die it’s, well, it’s like this:
I can’t explain how one comes to love a child who they hardly know. But I can say that I felt like Akouvi was part of my family. I loved her. And so often in her letters, she told me that she loved me too.
I don’t think I understood the depth of my love for her until February 23. That’s the day that I found out Akouvi had died. That’s the day I felt like something had cracked open inside of me, filling me with red-hot grief. Sadness that burned so fiercely that even my tears could not extinguish it.
I found myself very distracted the day we heard of his death. I wondered how his family is coping. I wondered what kind of ceremony they would have in Tanzania to remember such a precious child. I wondered if his family realized that his sponsor family was at a loss over what to do.