By Dr Masimba Mavaza- I sat in bed with my 13 year-old son, he looked up at me through tears and asked, “Do you think my brother will have a long life or a short life?”
It was a big question from a little boy, but not an unexpected one.
‘A Deep and Hollowing Pain ran through my spine. It was very difficult to think. My son was lying in hospital with some heart ailment.
All sorts of thoughts blind your mind. For the first time you feel a strong force sucking your faith away. The child poses questions which are so difficult to answer.
These are times you as a parent would want God to come down and talk to you. Why becomes a question which haunts you but it cuts through your ears like a hot knife slicing through a lump of butter.
Your confidence is utterly battered. Your pride is wounded. This is the time you realise that you are useless and helpless. Those you have considered as friends wax away.
One by one they distance themselves from you. It is hard for parents to share Stories of Caring for a Sick Child.
The child looks into your eyes and boldly say we are not praying today me and God are not talking.
All of a sudden you slip into the grim and frequently heart-breaking reality of child’s sickness. This sharply opens a window on the reaction of a surprisingly tender world of close families and devoted family members who quickly drop the veil and show you how important some people are.
Parents have always had a deep-seated desire to look after their offspring to see them live a pain free life. Faced with the desperate reality of a child falling ill, the niceties of gender or manly behaviour perhaps ceased to matter.
You are exposed to the inner self and it is at this time when you embrace the weaker you inside you. This is the time you shed a tear. Yes men sometimes do cry. It is human to cry to God and demand to see God’s hand
It is terrifying for all of us. For a mother the panic is palpable. Her heart would race. She would sob and sweat and look at me desperately for reassurance that her son was not going to stop breathing and die.
She is seeking assurance from a man who is looking for the same assurance too.
After my son was got sick people often told me, “he will be all right,” and while I understood the sentiment, I found it an immense oversimplification. The path to “all right” would undoubtedly be long, winding and, ultimately, up to God.
Life for a sick child has often been depicted as a pretty miserable experience, characterised by pain physical hardship, and aloof and strict medical regime. It is as well his time and his God.
In the hospital ward you read grief in all corners of the room, it also brings to life often heart-rending moments when you sit helplessly at the child’s bedside, and your child will be trying to keep your spirits up even as he struggled for breath.
This sombre moment provides an unusual level of insight into what life is like at the time, especially for children who are in pain and locked in a ward.
This the time you take time to understand more about society’s attitudes to children, and how doctors and laypeople approached the task of treating them.
I remember taking the call from a doctor, and hearing him say, ‘This is bad, it’s really bad. I began to shake uncontrollably and had to steady myself by holding on to the hospital counter.
I felt as though I might fall over and not be able to stand up again.”More questions gash in Why? Why him and not me? I have lived, he is just beginning his life-no matter how old he might be a child is a child.
I then remembered that sickness isn’t a problem that needs fixing because you can not fix it. I’m always trying to help others understand that sickness is not pathology.
It needs a natural response to a hard situation, and it’s rooted in your love for your person. and the love of others. My son’s sickness is a part of reality — I can’t change that. Instead, I will try my hardest to bear witness to his suffering.
It won’t be perfect. I won’t always get it right, but we’ll do it together.
We always believe that the reality may often have been quite the opposite, however.”I am not able to say one word more, but at this time there is not a creature in the world which has not gone through sickness
The experience of child sickness also appears to have brought out the close bonds between family members and blurred gender distinctions.
Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers all turn up in the historical record coming to each other’s aid. By faith I believe that the treatments ‘delivered’ the boy of his infestation, so that when he is visited two years later, he would tell you he had never been troubled with it since.
Always in the midst of all these fake friends show no remorse. Never worry about them God is always in control.
It is at that time that you see him walk out of the hospital room. His mind set for home.
Then Jeremiah said “For How Long’
“Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments:
Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.
But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.
How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? the beasts are consumed, and the birds; because they said, He shall not see our last end.”
Jeremiah 12:1-4 KJV