There are some things I will never understand.
Honestly, there are a lot of things I will never understand.
Some days things happen at a rate I can hardly fathom. Some times beautiful. Some times amazing. And some times, absolutely painful, inexplicable and downright unfair.
Earlier this year, I shared the story of Stefani. A precious baby girl who was quite literally dying from malnutrition. Her young mother frantic to find a way to help her, came to the Danita's Children Medical Center, in a desperate attempt to save her life. It was then that our paths crossed, and my life was forever changed.
Over the next few months, as Stefani, along with her mother Chelie, were receiving intensive treatment at a clinic for severely malnourished children in Port-au-Prince, her father, Cheska, and I developed a friendship. He would ask me daily if I had heard any updates on his sweet girlfriend and darling baby girl, and would chase me down anytime Chelie called so I could talk with her.
I grew to deeply love this special family. They broke the cycle. They shattered stereotypes.
The true heroes of the world.
I had the pleasure of documenting their reuniting this past spring, when Chelie and Stefani victoriously returned home.
About a week ago, I received an email with the devastating news that Cheska had developed kidney and liver failure, and unfortunately had passed away.
I've never had such an instant emotional response to something. Within minutes, I was sobbing. Completely heartbroken by the news.
I couldn't help but question as to why this needed to come to pass.
Why this family who had already endured so much hardship?
In Haiti, death is all too common. Even death among the young, but this loss came all too close for comfort.
It was impossible for me to shake it off as, "normal", "typical", or "expected".
Why do some get to live, and others are merely destined to die?
So many questions left unanswered.
Cheska was laid to rest last week, but his image, his family all weigh heavy on my heart. It all feels rather unfinished. A door left open, a page left unwritten, an empty seat at the table, and I'm not sure what it all means.
Haiti doesn't really give you time to mourn, no real time to process. You deal with what's happening in the moment, and then almost always have to immediately pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.
Time waits for no one. Especially here where there are too many things and people, who need the precious energy I can't bare to waste.
Life and death are partners in a haunting, yet beautiful dance.
Each are so fragile. At any given moment, life can slip away into the clutches of death, but the song keeps going. The dance doesn't stop.
There will always be life.
There will always be death.
One cannot exist without the other.
It's an inexplicable phenomenon, which somehow keeps the universe in order.
For every life that is saved, one is lost.
In our line of work, particularly with malnutrition, this is an never-ending cycle. We watch lives transform right before our eyes. Lifeless body regain breath in their lungs, light in their eyes and joy in their hearts.
And they are merely the lucky ones.
Every day children die of malnutrition, most before their fifth birthday. As one is given the chance to survive, a second chance at life, another one loses the battle.
It's not fair. It's not right. It seems altogether cruel.
Yet, it's what keeps me going. I refuse to sit idly as darkness continues to lurk and seek innocent prey.
Young fathers dedicated to their families are going to continue to contract illnesses that claim their lives.
Children will die of malnutrition.
And I will continue to fight.
"If not me, then who? If not now, then when?"
I must ask the same question.
If not me, then who will stand up for these babies. If not me, then who will fight for improved healthcare, so amazing men like Cheska have a chance at survival.
God has placed me here in Haiti, in this specific place, at this precise time, for a purpose bigger and greater than I can fully see or understand right now.
I will never have the answers. I will never be able to explain "why God allowed" innocent lives to be lost, but I do know that His ways are higher than my ways, and His knowledge, far more than I could ever begin to comprehend.
And maybe there are just some things I'm not meant to understand.
His life was given, sacrificed, brutally ended so that I might have life.
His love so incredibly deep and vast beyond all of my measure.
As I sit here tonight, making a pathetic attempt to express everything I feel in my heart, the hymn, "How Deep The Father's Love", seems to be the only words calming my soul.
And so that's where I will leave this post.
How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure...
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss -
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life -
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart -
His wounds have paid my ransom.
- Stuart Townsend