Efren has been sick for a very long time. Two years of expensive blood transfusions, fights with DSWD to get him to the States for medical treatment, questions of why, why , why, and hours of careful attention as he suffered daily from the effects of with a terminal blood disorder called Thalessemia Major.
He has had bouts where I was sure he was going to die and the next morning he would be well. He was such a fighter.
But this morning, I knew, the time had come. Nothing was right. And he was really struggling. All day, I sat with him. He couldn’t get comfortable, couldn’t get his breath. It was agonizing to watch him. I called Mama Violy and Papa Nilo, the couple who has acted as Efren’s parents for more than a year. They are both caregivers at Gentle Hands and treat all the children as their very own. We sat together, nursing Efren, speculating and wondering, questioning, praying, and watching.
My own children, Elijah, Merry Faye, came to check throughout the day, not understanding and moved to tears. How could I explain what was happening?
Then, at 11 pm, after hours of trying to get him comfortable, silently, he took his last breath. No one moved. The whirring of the fan was the only sound. One by one, the boys came in and looked at the body. My older sons, Noah and Jason. There was no words, no sounds. Only silent tears.
I watched as Violy and Nilo cried together. They loved this child and he had loved them. He had been able to experience a mother and father’s love through them.
When all had come and gone, I wrapped the body in a white sheet and carried him to the van where Eddy and Ezekiel were waiting. We drove 15 minutes to the all-too-familiar-funeral parlor that we have used before. Logistics and cremations plans were discussed hurriedly. Another van was waiting to bring another body in. I was told where to leave the body.
I laid Efren’s body gently on the cold steel table and for a moment, I honestly struggled. How could I leave him here all alone. It didn’t seem right. I touched his cheek for the last time and left.
The truth? How relieved I am he is gone. After years of praying, worrying, and watching him suffer, I know he is finally running and jumping and laughing so hard. For the first time in his little life, he is healthy, happy, and whole. I would not wish him back for the whole world.
But I see his little face. His little smile. His little fingers. And there is a part of me that will miss him.
Now in the quiet darkness of my room, tears are real and hot on my cheeks. I replay every moment of this day. There are still no answers to the questions. But a peace that I know floods my soul. Safe, secure, and so loved, I know Efren is in the arms of Jesus. And I know. It was worth it all.