UPDATE ON LJ
An earlier article describes how I first bonded with the little girl known as LJ. Since that item was written, LJ has grown and come out of her shell. She is an instigator. She leads the other little girls around. She is charming and engaging and whenever someone new comes into the house it is only a matter of minutes before they are trying to steal her affection.
But there is nobody like Daddy. The changes in this girl since she came to HH are amazing to Judy. “I don’t know what you are doing to this kid,” she often says, “but keep doing it!” Judy attributes LJ’s transformation to the fact that she and I somehow have this connection. When LJ comes around with those beautifully expressive eyes and gives me this look of adoration that she only gives me, it is wonderful to be alive. In retrospect, I think that LJ is a very non-verbal communicator. Since I couldn’t speak her tribal language or Swahili, the only way I could communicate with her from day one was non-verbally. That may have had a lot to do with why we bonded.
I adore LJ, but she is really a poster child for what HH is all about. I had a lovely chance to reflect on this when I spent three days with LJ in the hospital in January. LJ Had a really high fever and was diagnosed with malaria severe enough to require hospitalization for IV treatment and monitoring. When a young child needs to be hospitalized, we have an adult go with the child 24/7. Since I was around (and Judy has had more than her share of hospital duty) and LJ trusts me completely, I went with her to the hospital. One would think that spending time in a hospital with a sick kid would be miserable, but I found it to be sublime.
The best thing was that after the first night LJ was feeling quite a bit better and I knew she was going to be okay. I slept in the hospital bed while LJ slept in a child bed. We spent the day time reading and re-reading story books, walking around the hospital building, pushing the elevator buttons, sharing Minute Maid orange drink, hiding out on a fourth floor fire escape for fresh air, and pretending the beds were boats and the rest of the room was water. I don’t know where the time went. By day two, Judy was calling and accusing us of being on holiday, which wasn’t far from the truth.
When nurses came in, they were pleasant with LJ but she would not talk to them. I assured them that LJ talks plenty to me. Three weeks later, Judy was at the same hospital ward with another kid. The nurses were talking about LJ, and how she would not talk to them but only had eyes for Daddy.
LJ cried only once, after a male nurse aggressively administered some eye drops. I think maybe she just needed to cry from the stress of the whole situation. I hugged her for twenty solid minutes and her smile returned.
LJ slept a lot better than I did, and many times I looked at her sleeping, or doing whatever she was doing, and thinking, “What a precious gift this child is! I can’t believe she has come into our lives!” I think of the improbability of that happening. The feelings this little girl evokes are overwhelming and I am amazed and thankful to experience this in my life. And I realized that is how I feel about all the kids at HH. They are priceless, and I feel sorry for the parents who have passed away or could not or would not love and provide for these precious human beings.