Sometimes life and injustice just hurts.
Sometimes I just find myself without words. I try to speak but only tears and groans of despair come out.
Last week hurt. A whole lot.
Expectant joy turned to deep sorrow for friends of ours.
It was a day that for them started 24hours earlier. Or maybe nine months earlier if you count the sickness and uncertainty, yet building anticipation they felt towards their new child.
For me though, it started with an early morning phone call followed by a recklessly fast drive back to Massangulo.
I’ve replayed that day now in my mind many times over the past week.
The way time seemingly stood still to me as I watched my friend labour until her strength was almost gone. For her every second was excruciating, filled with pain and uncertainty.
I can see the hope in her eyes when I arrived to take her to the hospital in the city, followed by despair as we waited on the doctor and she realised it had become too late for her to be able to safely travel the two hour bumpy road.
I see her husband sitting outside waiting, ignored and unimportant. Eagerly jumping to his feet every time I walked outside hoping for news of his wife and child.
I look around and see the lack of resources and the tragedy this contributes to. An ambulance sits waiting but there is no driver to be found so they had to call me two hours away. There is no option of surgery or really any other birth assistance. No pain medications. No heart rate monitor. No oxygen for the baby. There isn’t even enough beds for the four women crammed into the tiny birthing room – two lie together on one bed, with the four beds separated enough only for a nurse to walk between.
The nurse seems uncaring, the doctor unavailable. But maybe on reflection that’s their own way of coping with the heartache and lack of resources they face every day. They themselves are understaffed and lack options.
In my mind I wonder what if. What if the small, perfectly formed baby boy that I held in my arms came into this world full of life and strength? What if he breathed? What if he cried? But what I actually remember is that no tears or breath of mine could will his lifeless body to live. No groans of agony from his mother brought him back.
It was touch and go for both of them that morning. In the end she held onto her life, but in losing her son she lost a part of herself anyway.
Perhaps one of the most replayed moments in my head is that of the look on people’s faces after the beautiful boy’s eyes were closed for the last time. Each looked at me as I turned from him – my friend, her family, her husband – searching desperately for the joy they hoped to see, yet I know in my eyes was only soul destroying sorrow.
And this was not the end of the story. What followed was almost as hard.
A battle between the grieving about whether a baby not alive 24hrs should or could have a funeral. The anger. The blame. Both humanly and divinely directed. There’s a searching for truth happening in their hearts, a demand for answers and future hope, but right now these thing can’t be found. It’s painful.
Sometimes life and injustice just hurts. Sometimes fragile hope crumbles in the face of circumstances.
As they weep, we too weep for the loss, the despair, the fear, the resignation.
And as they sit broken, we too sit sharing space and grief.
These are our friends. And this is their struggle.