Wednesday, March 21, 2012

life and death in liberia

We all say that death is part of life, but sometimes I think it is more a part of life in Liberia then anywhere else. A week doesn't go by that someone I know isn't mourning the loss of a loved one. In the last year alone-- Joseph's brother and father, Piko's brother, Amma's brother, Alvina's aunt, uncle and cousin, General's baby boy, a really good friend of Ma Mary... the list goes on and on.

Two Monday's ago I received an early morning phone call from a man I hadn't talked to in close to two years. I met Peter when Michael died. Sweet, innocent, faithful, Michael. Peter was his uncle, the one who cared for Michael when his mother and father died, who tried to get him treatment in the simplicity of rural Liberia and then sent him to Monrovia for treatment when it became obvious he was too sick. The uncle that I mourned with at the graveside and shared stories and pictures of Michael with on my front porch.

Peter lives six hours outside of Monrovia and I haven't seen him since Michael died. Unfortunately, he wasn't calling with just a friendly hello. He had news. News you never want to hear. Michael's twin brother, Mark, had been in a terrible motorbike accident, his back broken, his body paralyzed. Peter wasn't asking for anything besides prayer. "Please pray for us!" he begged me, and I promised him I would.

I thought of Peter and Mark several times over the next week. Racking my brain for someway to help, all I came up with were prayers for comfort and peace and healing. Helpless. I received another call this Monday, Mark was being discharged from the hospital on a stretcher to the family home. Again, the only thing I could offer from so far away were my prayers.

Yesterday morning I was greeted at my front gate by the crying wails of a mourning woman. The boys' auntie, Bee, had come to tell me Mark was dead. She clutched my neck and sobbed into my shoulder and I was taken back to the hospital 22 months ago when this same fragile woman clutched my neck and sobbed into my shoulder over Michael's dead body. Two boys dead. The hope of the family. Twins in life and now in death.

These are the why questions that were never meant to be answered. Why so much death in one small country? Why so much tragedy in one small family? Why two boys who hadn't yet reached twenty-one? Just, why?

I have only known this family in times of mourning, but I pray they can find joy again... somehow. I never even met Mark, but his death affects my life. I can only hope and pray that my prayers-- my God who answers prayers-- affected his life as well. 

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