Glucose drips by the dim light of the kitchen, running down plastic tubing, bringing life to her veins.
Oil from the jerry cans smudges the perfectly crisp, white paper with hand drawn lines and charts and more “Xs” by incomplete feedings than I know is going to help her.
She spits porridge; sometimes in her basin, sometimes on me because I burned it…for the second time today.
And then, I wake her. In the early hours of the morning before even the rooster crows we rise and I offer her milk.
She refuses it. Again.
And my tired eyes plead. My tense hands gently rub her back. And we wait. Some times for hours we wait. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, only 20 minutes.
My head begs for my pillow and my eyelids grow heavier and more than one exasperated sigh parts my lips, but more than that, my heart yearns to encourage her weary, withering soul.
We sit there like that for what seems an eternity in the middle of the night. An endless intermission to my dreaming and an interruption to her bodies desperate attempt at healing. She talks. And talks and talks, knowing well that I don’t understand her. But somehow I know exactly what she wants and she knows what I mean and what she needs and this is the promise of speaking in tounges.
We spend hours arguing. Is it futile? When you’re 27 and 29 kilos and your arm as big as the banana I just forced you to eat…is it over, yet?
She says to let her go. To stop my controlling hands from sitting her upright and the tears from gathering, always, in the corners of her eyes and streaming down her pointed cheek bones and pooling in her lap. She wants to be on the next taxi back to her mother. She wants to die there. With her people.
Of this disease so treatable, so preventable if only sooner. If only someone had taken the time.
I wipe a tear from my own cheek.
But again, I wake to make sure her heart still beas and her lungs still fill with air.
I heat her porridge and her temperature spikes.
But it is only what is for her her. She is so stubborn.
And in her delirium she yells at me in words I don’t know and turns her face apart from mine, and I presume if she had enough strength she would have pushed me, there.
Her stomach hurts because it’s too small for the volume of food, her head throbs from lack of bloodflow and her appetite is gone because of all the pills she swallows.
If only she would see her strength, believe in herself, and know I only want what’s good for her even if it hurts in this moment.
I catch my breath.
And in a moment I see so much of myself in Betty.
He only wants what’s best for me.
But in the momentary picture I can only see my own scapula protruding and rub my fingers over my ribs, counting.
Yet he sees me full, with muscle, and sunken eyes no more.
Her heart no longer discouraged and broken.
I wrap a blood pressure cuff around her arm 3x what is normal. She wraps her arm around my waist and we slowly journey to the bathroom down the hall.
He wraps his gentle hands around our hearts. And these dry bones.
“Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you and you will come to life,and you will know that I am LORD. […] I am going to open up your graves and bring you up from them, I will bring you back to the land of Israel, and you will know that I am LORD. I will put my Spirit in you and you will LIVE.” Ezekiel 37:5 & 13
My fingers rub her back and knobs of her spine.
And I am Betty, here, too.
He sought me, helpless.
I refuse, he pursued.
He, unconditionally, ever faithfully, unrelentingly, kept picking me up off the floor.
Caring for me when I didn’t want what was offered. Knowing my needs, and promising what’s best.
So time and time again still I turn my head to face the window and dream of more romantic things? Spit the medicinal porridge out and the hope he has poured out over me.
Discouraged, and succumbing to sin, and choosing things of this world instead of what my healer sees in me. Instead of choosing Him.
He believes in me, always. Because in the reality of life and death, he knows how the story ends. And with Him, that is always life.
So she curls up on the tile, making herself small, bone against cement, but held like a child in His lap. She takes of her porridge, for this hour, and drifts peacefully into a sleep, cast into the arms of her Savior. But she never really left.
He wakes again to offer her more.
More life, He’s not finished.
More of Him, He never runs out.
And she opens her hands.
(This was almost two months ago, and Betty is still fighting. She has a son and she loves Jesus. Pray healing for her fragile body and for her spirit to be renewed daily.)