Farewell, dear boy. You came to my house so very often, just wanting to write and draw and be. Since you were three you could not hear because of meningitis. You lived in a world of silence, yet you spoke so deeply to me and all those around you. With a wave and a smile, you would usher my car by each day. You taught my children compassion. You taught my children love. You couldn’t tell Lian how much you were grateful for her friendship, but you made her bows and arrows that took hours to make. You showed her how to shoot from them. You made her smile. You rode bikes around my yard and laughed. You connected with my Aunt’s fifth grade class and without words explained how you really just wanted to play basketball. You loved doing math sums and were so proud when your grades at the school of the deaf placed you second in your class.
In your silence, you fought an unseen battle. The HIV/AIDS that inflicted your family was taking its toll. Your body just couldn’t fight the battle any longer. Your heart was stopping. Your kidneys were failing. And money or access couldn’t take the pain away. You fought harder than anyone imagined or asked. And you knew, last night, that it was time to go as you said goodbye to your father when he left the room. He left still wanting to fight, but you knew. Somehow, across the oceans, my aunt was awoken in the middle of the night and prompted to pray for you. Without her knowing, they were prayers for the angels to take you and escort you into the highest place where you could truly live and be free.
I had the privilege today of picking up your father and taking him to you. There were no words spoken in the car. Only tears. And the only words I felt prompted to say were, “You are a good father. God is pleased with you.” And yet my Kinyarwandan couldn’t do justice to what I really wanted to say. I could only cry. As I lifted the shroud and placed my hand on your cold head, I could only say you were a blessed son.
And what can I say to them. My heart breaks for them. You are their third child to be taken away. One to malaria. One to doctor error. You to HIV/AIDS. Another miscarried and lost just two weeks ago. Your sister is left. Her name carries so much weight. Precious. She is precious. And we will care for her. She will start school this week. She will be loved. So many people love your family.
I loved your family and I know you needed to rest. Sleep in peace, dear boy.