He was born December 25, 2000.
That makes him 10 years old.
I met Christian during a Saturday outreach to the community we work in every week. It was the commotion actually that made me notice him. The mother, not fully sane, making noise and obviously wanting attention. I was honestly surprised at the reaction of the community. They were shocked, upset, and I could feel their eyes watching my every move as I was taken over to see this broken piece of humanity.
I remember touching his face, struggling to look at his broken body. I remember how I was calm, cool, collected, as they say. I asked many questions, listened carefully to the rumblings of the crowd, and made a calculating move,making certain I would be able to rescue this little one. We would help her. I smiled.
When we brought him home, he was afraid of every motion. He refused any eye contact, pretending he was sleeping. He was starving. But he could hardly eat and sucked so inefficiently. I remember the 3rd night when he screamed all night. I remember how I couldn’t sleep because I was so grieved for the loss of this precious little boy’s life. Such a senseless waste and oh how I did not understand how he had survived 9 years of horror. I questioned God why He hadn’t just whisked him to heaven.
Then one night, he sang. He sang high and loud. He didn’t talk but he sang and he told many stories. Sometimes there was a smile and sometimes a tear would roll down his cheek.
It took weeks of rubbing him and caressing him before he releaxed. But he did. We won his trust, we won his litte heart. And, yes, he did win ours.
He was heavy but the caregivers lifted him in and out of his crib, feeding him, bathing him, changing him and moving him so he wouldn’t get bedsores.
He was difficult to feed but they did it gently until he knew his feeding schedule and ate ferociously. He was a little boy.
Every morning he went along to the park strapped in his stroller along with the toddlers, always his little legs crossed his one hand close to his mouth.
After Christmas, his seizures became more and more frequent and more violent, we knew something was happening. My caregivers cried every shift, unable to accept what we had decided wasn’t going to happen. I counselled them, prayed with them, and we talked over and over how wonderful to have given Christian life even for a short time.
One night, they carried him up to me. It was my turn.
This Valentines Day would be different. Flowers and chocolates mean little when life and death is put before you.
I laid him on the couch and stayed by his side. He slipped in and out of consiousness after each seizure. I cooed to him endlessly. I didn’t want him to be afraid. In the night, he sang to me. He sang and he cooed. I snuggled him for a long time.
I know God gave him to us so he would know love before he died. I knew the day I met him, he wasn’t to live long. I knew I was to love him and help him forget all the pain, abuse, suffering, and fear he had lived through for 9 years.
I looked through my tears as his last breath was near. Christian, thank you for letting me love you. You suffered so very much. And you lived to teach me yet again that love is the greatest gift we can give.
A broken little lamb now resting in the arms of the Shepherd.
I guess it’s the best Valentine’s Day of all.
In Memory of Christian
December 25, 2000 – February 14, 2011