She heard the vehicle pull up near her hut. It sounded like a big one. She heard the excitement…the shouts of “Mzungu! Mzungu!”
“That must be them,” she thought.
She pulled the shawl a little tighter around her frail shoulders and shifted the baby in her lap.
They had told her they were coming. Someone had agreed to take her baby and help her. Someone had agreed to keep her baby for her – her baby who was also slowly dying.
She had no other choice. She was dying. Quickly. The HIV had already taken over so much of her body. She was deteriorating fast. She knew she didn’t have much time. So when the people offered to find a place for her daughter…she didn’t hesitate to agree.
She heard the voices, the people talking. Asking questions about her, about her baby girl. She heard the local council asking what needed to be written for legal documentation.
She heard. Oh, how she wished she could see. How she wished she could see the face of this stranger that she was giving her baby to. How she wished she could see the face of her baby…probably for the last time. How she wished…and yet she knew that these thoughts would only remain wishes.
How she wished she could have at least seen her precious daughter’s face. Seen her eyes. Seen whether she looked like her mother or not. Oh, she had felt those eyes…and felt them many times. She had felt the little nose and mouth, counted each of the tiny fingers and toes, and held the little body close to her at night.
Sometimes, she just really wished that she could see. Most of the time it was ok- she had learned to use her other senses to make up for it, and God had been good. Other friends helped her…and helped her with the baby. But sometimes…she just really wished she could see.
Now. Was one of those times.
How she wished she could see this white lady – how she wished she could see her daughter one time before she was gone.
But it was not to be.
There are some things that God takes completely out of our control and this was definitely one of them. So, she listened. She heard strange voices and could only assume these were the people. and apparently one was a mzungu. Yes, she thought that they had said a mzungu would take care of her baby for her.
Her four month old baby girl. Her only child. leaving today. But it was for the best. Her baby’s best. She was dying; her baby was dying. Her child didn’t need to suffer because of her and this horrible disease. And her baby was…she was dying just like her mother. So sick. Malnourished. No breast milk. She had heard not to breast feed your baby if you have HIV…the baby could contract it. So, it had been a struggle keeping her alive on tea and water. But at least she had made it this far and was still alive. She heard her baby cry…she knew that cry very well. She shifted the baby in her lap again, and thought once more about how sick her baby was. Lately the baby had been so sick she did not even have the energy to cry. During the night she had to feel around for the baby because she made no sound at all. Her baby was so sick, she just knew it. How close to death she or her baby was she did not know – she only knew that it was bad for both of them. Now this white lady was willing to help take care of her before she ended up dying. At least her baby might have a chance at life.
“Stand up…the white lady is here in front of you. She says she will take good care of the baby.”, her good friend says. “She looks nice. She looks like she already loves the baby. She keeps smiling but she has tears in her eyes.”
She then felt the warm hands help lift her to her feet. She felt the tears already on this mzungu’s hands. She held the baby while the mzungu hugged her. The village people were all talking with the visitors…but the white lady stayed next to her. She could almost feel the mzungu’s eyes on her. She so wished she could at least see this nice lady who was taking her baby. Oh, how she wished that she could. she felt her baby for the last time, then handed her to the nice white lady.
They stood for a while longer then she heard her friend say, “The white lady is going to take the baby now. She is holding her close to her chest. She brought some clothes, diapers, milk and a blanket for the baby. I believe the baby will be ok.”
It was getting dark, so the people had to get back, her friend explained. The white lady spoke some very kind words: said that she would take good care of the baby - feed her and love her. The white lady said that she would be praying for her, she loved her, and then the nice white lady was gone. She heard the vehicle start up and drive away. Carrying the nice white lady and her baby away in it.
Gone. That quickly. Her baby was gone. She most likely would not see her again. The HIV was eating up her body so quickly. The nice white lady had said that she would try to bring her baby back to see her, but she honestly didn’t know if she would still be alive by that time. But at least her baby was ok. That was enough.
A white lady. Yes, her baby should be fine.
She prayed that night. And she knew that God heard her cries. She prayed that her baby would be loved. She prayed that her baby would live. And have a chance to be someone in this world. She prayed that her baby would not get this horrible disease. Lord, no, not this horrible disease.
Maybe one day. Maybe one day she will see her little baby girl again. If not here…then maybe eternity. That is all she could pray at this point…all she could hope for.
She knew her days were numbered.
But at least she would die in peace. She would die knowing that her daughter was taken care of. She would die knowing that her baby would have a future. She would die knowing that she did her best – she had tried to do her best for her baby girl.
At least she would die in peace.