Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One Hundred and Fourteen Days (Part I)

The details of this day are forever etched in my soul. I will never forget even the minutest detail of February 6, 1997. To say that your life was changed in an instant, with a phone call, is an understatement.

Our son was sick. Very sick. We had no idea what was wrong with him. He couldn't walk. He ran fevers. He had pain. He was a healthy 13 year old boy before returning from a trip to Pakistan. He had gone to Pakistan with his father and two younger sisters because his grandfather was ill. They were scheduled to leave on 12/10 and stay until the New Year.

On 12/9 we returned to our home unable to find our other children as they had been evacuated from our home due to a raging five alarm fire that spread throughout our town home community. When I saw the Salvation Army on the scene, I knew we had a disaster.

We found our other children and my mother. We went to a hotel and all eight of us slept in the same room. The trip to Pakistan was postponed for a few days. My husband and our three youngest left for Pakistan three days later. The rest of us went to a nicer hotel to spend Christmas and wait for what the New Year would bring.

The New Year located us in two furnished corporate apartments in a neighboring town. Daily trips to take children to school. Calling part of your family on the phone to come downstairs to the other apartment for supper - all of these things were now normal.

As I waited for my husband to come out of the shower so we could take our son to the ER, the phone rang, my pager buzzed. I answered the phone. I heard my secretary Margaret say, "Joyce, the Children's Hospital called. They said that Bethany is there with her daughter."

I called. Shortly my oldest daughter Bethany, her voice so dim I could barely hear her, said, "Rukhsanah is dead."  I collapsed in tears on the floor.

114 days of life
Rukhsanah Israel Lighari born on September 16, 1996 went to heaven on February 6, 1997 

I waited for my husband to come out of the shower on the floor. I managed to call our pastor. He, his wife, my best friend, a deacon, our children all arrived at the hospital at the same time. Nothing prepares you to see your own child, holding her child who was already in the arms of Jesus. In disbelief, Bethany tried to nurse her daughter to wake her up.

Thanks to the aggressiveness of the youth pastor who went to the apartment, the police let her husband and two other children come to the hospital. We huddled together, natural family and spiritual family as we prayed.

I was going to write one blog on this and publish it on the anniversary of her death. I've decided to write a short series about this experience. There is much to tell. I decided to start today. 

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