Today was a beautifully sunny day, smiling faces, laughter rippling across the campus. So much noise, just the normal conversations: homework, boys, girls, drama, the long weekend beginning after lunch. But today of all days demonstrates how quickly that warm chatter can turn to cold silence. One of my girls, a high school senior named Neema, was in the hospital due to complications with her sickle cell anemia. We just visited her two days ago, Tuesday on our way back from town. She was sitting up, eating, and laughing with us or at us. This morning after staff worship it was said she’d probably get to leave the hospital soon, she was scheduled to be released Saturday. Spirits were up, smiles were present and we went back to work. Not long after I get a call from Mrs. V… Neema is gone.
I know my heart stilled for a moment, it’s hard to process, and until we gathered everyone together I didn’t shed a tear. Not when I could hear the girls sobbing in the rows in front of me did I cry. It wasn’t until the closing prayer that a tear slipped from beneath my eyelids. This morning was hard on the girls, I saw many crying, some doubled over in silent agony, others wailing in despair. I vividly remember when Corine came in. She was supported between two other girls, she was barely walking, dragging her feet and moaning. It was an eerie and mournful sound.
They guided her to her bed where she lay, still moaning. At times she would move in a way I can only describe as convulsively, her wails would grow louder in pain. I climbed across her, sitting there with her on her bed, softly trying to calm her. It is then that I cried, tears flowed easily from my eyes at the intense pain. Pain that I know all too well was demonstrated before my eyes. I knew that pain, from nearing two years back. All I could do was hold her and rub her back in an attempt to comfort her.
Today was a sad day despite the sun. Neema’s presence will be sorely missed as she was one of the kindest girls I know. I am at least glad she did not die in pain. The doctors say she just went to sleep, they tried to revive her, but it was not to be. Goodnight Neema, may you sleep in peace until the day that Jesus comes back for us all. I am glad to have met you even if it was for a short time.