This Sunday morning, I received a message from Teo, telling me that one of my children from the orphanage-I’ll call her Oana-had passed away over the weekend.
I must have read the message four times. I felt my heart drop, and I just stood there, staring at the letters on the screen. I’d read them, but they didn’t really make sense. I could picture Oana’s face in my mind, how she’d been the last time I’d seen her, crying because she was in pain. None of us were able to help her, other than to make her more comfortable.
Little things would hit me throughout the rest of that day: I’d never see her perk up again when I touched her hand, I’d never sing her her favorite song again, I’d never run my fingers through her beautiful, thick hair and hear her sigh with happiness.
I walked into the orphanage this morning to find a lovely white dress, hat, and shoes laid out in Oana’s crib. That was the moment it became real to me. The death of a child is always so senseless. It always leaves everyone asking why.
I believe that Oana-like all of my children-was perfect in her short time in this world. She was completely innocent. She was in pain most of the time that I knew her, and yet she still brought so much positivity and joy into my life. Though she was physically and intellectually disabled and was mostly bedridden, I cannot, and will not, believe that Oana’s life had no purpose. She taught everyone around her compassion and service and pure, true love.
I also cannot, and will not, believe that the short, difficult existence she had is the end. I believe she is in a place where the disabilities she had during this life have been stripped away, and she is finally able to do all the things she could never do here. She’ll never have to face trials, or pain, again. She’s found peace. Even in the middle of my sadness, those thoughts make me hopeful.
I started this journey hoping to help the children. Did I make a difference in Oana’s life at all? I can’t answer that question. What I can do is remember her as I set out to start a new career trying to help people. No matter what happens, or what sad moments I have, I have the responsibility to lift those around me. I have the responsibility to keep believing in happy endings.