Sunday, July 20, 2008


I am at my sister's Elizabeth's house in Springfield, MO for a quick overnight visit...this will be the last visit before we leave for Mexico and we wanted to get the kids together one last time. We celebrated Jacob's birthday yesterday with a water balloon took Liz and I 2 hours to fill all those balloons with water and the kids about 2 minutes to destroy every single one! :) But they had a great time, so it was worth it. I am having a pretty good time except that I felt very sick yesterday; I even threw up once before I left (could I possibly be preg..don't even want to SAY that word!!). And then Jojo started having a headache and fever...probably from the vaccines he got this week, so that's been stressful.

Anyway, I noticed that Liz has four boxes of family photos here, so I started looking through them with the kids, showing them pictures from when I was little. That was fun and sure did bring back a ton of memories...and the kids enjoyed guessing which little blondie was Mommy...yes, I started life out as a blonde! :) I showed them pictures of the Macu people and how we lived at the Lake...and then I spotted the section named "Emily". I didn't really want to pull those pictures out, but I did. I knew it would be emotional...and it was. Let me tell you about Emily.

Emily was a little Macu girl, about 16 months old that we took care of for a few months one summer while I was home. Emily wasn't her real name, of course, that's just what we called her since it was a lot easier to remember! She may not have even had a name yet...I really can't remember. Anyway, she and her older sister were orphans and lived with an aunt and uncle. But orphans are pretty low priorities for Macu families since it's such a struggle to feed their own children and Emily had gotten pretty sick and thin. The family clan had been at the mission base for a while and my parents suspected that they might abandon her when they left. A few hours after we knew the family had gone, my sister Liz and I went down to the empty camp to check and sure enough, there was Emily sitting there all by herself in the dirt. When she saw me, she started to cry and lifted her arms for me to pick her up. I think my heart broke at that point and I already knew that I loved her. I took her home and I fed her and gave her a much needed bath. Since it was a very busy time for my parents, I took care of her during the day and slept with her at night so that my Mom wouldn't get so tired. Emily was a very serious little girl those first few days, especially when it came to food...for two or three weeks, she wasn't content unless she had a cracker clutched in both hands.

As we fattened her up a bit and she knew food was no longer an issue, she really blossomed. She began to play and even to smile. Emily turned into one of the sweetest babies I had ever seen! Her smile was beautiful and her laugh contagious. It was hard not to love her (even when she pooped and peed on the floor 17 times one day!!!).

Then it came time for me to fly back out to the mission school. If I had had the choice, I think I would have tried to find a way to keep Emily, but it just wasn't possible. She cried when I left and my heart broke all over again. I think I tried not to think about her to avoid the pain. My Mom told me later that when her family came back and saw her in such good health, they wanted her back. And that once again Emily became weak and then sick and that she later died.

I really hate the ending to this story! I wish it could have been different. Emily has a very special place in my heart and I find myself thinking of her often, especially when I come across pictures of giving Emily a bath, Emily and I swinging in the hammock, Liz and Emily giggling together...Emily gave me my first taste of what having my own children would be like...the powerful love and emotional connection...and the pain that comes with losing someone I love. Sometimes I wonder if I will see her again, romping in Heaven. I truly hope so!


Ellie said...

Hi - i was just reading blogs tonight, and I read about Emily.

I thought I was the only one.

It is not often you can talk to someone who has been "mommy" to a baby when they were young. Not many understand that love and that loss.

I stopped sharing about my ten months caring for a national baby when I was 13. People did not understand. They said odd comments such as, "well, you were too young to really understand what a mother's love is like." and "it will be so different when you have your own." Maybe. With my own, there is a knowledge that no one will take them away. But the love is not dramatically different.

Only my story ends differently. he was returned to his parents (who by the way were very alive and loved him dearly.) and lived. I saw him a few years ago when he was 18. So different than the year old baby I handed back to his mom. I could not pick him up and hug him then.

But... he is growing up in a village where few know God at all and there is no active witness...

I have no assurance that I will see him again in heaven. I pray. I hang on to a belief that God saved his life for a reason, and hold that in front of God.

And, yes, four kids of my own later, I still miss him.

Interesting to read your story.

I feel less alone today.

Rebecca Conduff Aguirre said...

ellie, thank you so much for writing about your experience...I'm so glad that you were encouraged by my post. It was so interesting to feel so compelled to write about Emily, maybe God had me do that just for you! :)