Tenwek Tragedy

(from Eric - you can read a bit more at Jennifer's blog here)

What to say?  A story that cuts, but for us, it guts us and knocks us flat.  It's unbelievable.  Because I can almost imagine being in their shoes, I can't possibly imagine being in their shoes.

The Kelley family arrived five weeks ago to serve at Tenwek Hospital, Kenya, for two years with the Post-Residency program with Samaritan's Purse, just as we did in late 2009.  Aaron is an ER doctor and Stephanie stays at home with their three little boys and their 14-month old girl.  We met them a few times in the past year, and last July, Rachel and I had a good time answering their questions about shopping in Nairobi and Kenyan vacation spots.  Their blog told us that they are living in the Cropsey's apartment, next to ours, and that they are benefiting from the bananas and basil that we planted in the backyard garden.  They were hoping to see baboons on the way to Tenwek, but alas no.

We can picture every aspect of it.  

Then, the unthinkable.  Hannah, their 14-month old daughter has persistent vomiting.  They are taking care of her, talking with our friends at the hospital about possible causes.  Then a couple nights ago, she stops breathing.  Her heart stops.  Aaron has to perform CPR in their apartment.  They make the trek up the hill to the ER, the same walk we took when Rachel was in labor.  Hours of resuscitation in the ER.  There was a picture of all of our former colleagues surrounding her bed.  The CT scanner that they inaugurated the day we left in 2011 showed a malignant brain tumor.

She was rushed to Kijabe Hospital several hours away where she had surgery.  She died the next day.


No.  This didn't happen.

Our world, so full of beauty, is plunged into darkness.  How did this happen?  I recommend to you Aaron's blog posts and the testimony that they bear.  That which stood out the most to me was a single sentence.  He was recounting the cardiac arrest of his daughter, her brain cancer, and their trip through the Rift Valley to Kijabe.   After noting how remarkable it is that a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon was at Kijabe just a couple hours away (which is quite correct), he says "Tell me God is not good!"  Those words nearly broke me.  It's an almost unthinkable thing to say in his situation.  A cynic would call it denial.  But it's more of an anchor for the soul.  But it's mostly a defiant shout into the darkness.

And he's right.  

I can't even bear the weight of it, but he's right.  

What's lost is nothing to what's found.  And all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.

And I feel it in my reaction to this story.  I pick Maggie and Ben up from school and hold them so tightly.  They smile at me, and the deep durable goodness of the moment is unmasked, and it is full of glory.  It is full of glory.  And though the darkness and brokenness of our world are achingly real, the greater reality of the goodness of a single cup of water would stand up to any tragedy.  This is no survivor's guilt.  This is darkness showing in relief just how precious is the life we have been given.  It's been there all the time.

Please pray for the Kelleys.  Pray for the Tenwek community.


Valerie Johnson said...

This family's story has set very, very heavily with me. Your thoughts here bring me comfort as I bear witness to their suffering, even without knowing them.

tscarlet said...

My heart is heavy for their family, the Tenwek community, and all those who know them. We are studying Job these days with our church, and for most of the message yesterday I could only think of this sweet girl's death. Oh God, make your goodness tangible even through this.

Uttz Family said...

Tears in my eyes...lifting this precious family up in prayer. So hard.

Kyle and Vanessa Jones said...

the day after her death, the only song i wanted to hear was "i will not be afraid of the darkness" by deliberate kids. it's a lullaby, but it brought healing to my heartache. your words and thoughts have brought a clear and strong light into a tragedy that has rocked us all to the core. thanks. hope you all are well! we do think of you often.