She is two years old, they say.

Been sick for 5 months or so, they say.

Doctors gave her medicine for asthma just 3 days ago, they say.

Eye contact is hard to get. Clear answers even harder.


I don’t give the parents a choice. The child has a right to live.

I find it amazing how a mother or a father can watch their child slowly suffer and die.

What hardships have they endured to have turned so deep within themselves that they feel so little.



Hazel Ann.

Just 5 kilos.

3rd degree malnutrition.

Jesus loves you.


“Suffer the little children to come unto me…”



The drive is only about 30 minutes. A lovely crematorium that is on a hillside with grassy slopes. Peaceful in a city of chaos.

I’m sure it is not only my mind that is grateful for the quiet within the big black gates.

His body is there, in a borrowed casket. An ugly, old, grey casket. I catch my breath when I see his little face. I had pushed it aside in my head. The pressures of the day demanding my thoughts.

I go to pick an urn. I can’t decide. That one is too pretty. That one too dark. That one too small. That one too big. Will he fit there? The question falls out of my mouth. The man smiles gently. This one, he says. Light grey. Just right. I feel sort of grey inside.

The familiar sound of the furnace and I nod for him to be wheeled away.

I sit alone in the large chapel. My heart heavy.

Where is the young mother that left her baby in the market? Where is the young man that fathered this child? I think of the caregivers, the social workers, the people his life touched. My own children. The visitors.

It doesn’t take long. The ashes are scraped into a small plastic bag and stuffed inside the urn. I hold it close. Grief threatens to come.

No one should die and not be grieved for.

No rich, no poor. No adult, no elderly and certainly, no child.

This grief should not be mine yet I would not give it away.

Teddy didn’t really belong to me though for some reason, he was placed in my hands… there wasn’t much time to hold him tight. I held my hands open. He was on a journey, to a much more beautiful place. My arms were just a stop.

I knew where he was going. I know where he has gone.

I can only imagine his relief at being in the arms of Jesus.

Why are tears so hot?

His name is Teddy.

He was abandoned, quite intentionally, given to a stranger on the street, while the mother pretended to go into a store to buy something. She never returned.

The stranger had the idea to keep him, since he himself had no children. But the child seemed ill. He was taken to DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and then taken to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed him with hydrocephalus- water on the brain- and said a shunt would kill him. His brain wasn’t fully developed. It was a matter of time. It would be better to just let nature take its course.

He was referred to us because there are few if any, other institutions other than Gentle Hands that will take the dying. It took me 3 weeks to find time and juggle funds in order to make the trip to another island to pick him up. The details of the trip are not important, really. The opportunity to share with the caregiving staff that watched Teddy for 6 weeks was worth the expense. Time spent making relationships and encouraging social workers and volunteers for loving Teddy, was rare and it made the journey worthwhile.

Now, he is burning with fever and he cries out with any movement. The pressure in his skull pulls the skin taunt.


I want to hold him close but it hurts him.

I cannot tell if he can see or hear. It appears not.

But I hold his hand. And when the seizures come, which they do, I pray for mercy.

Sometimes the fever breaks, the seizures quiet and he lays motionless, the steady movement of his little chest is all that shows there is still life.

Honestly, I don’t have time for the questions, the speculations, or the frustrations. I have learned that it is not my job to ask. No answers ever come, anyway.

When I am entrusted a child such as this, I love them as much as I can. I whisper that Jesus loves them. I hold them as gently as I can and tell them I will not leave them. They are safe.


He is screeching again. This seizure hurts. I hold my breath as I try desperately to make him more comfortable. And in time, he is quiet again.

It is hard to watch him suffer. Hard to think about the unfairness of his situation. I wish I could make it all better.

Oh, precious broken little lamb.

Father, have mercy.