No matter what words I use, they are going to sound trite. They would have sounded trite to me last week at this time. More time and more searching for better words will not make them sound anything but trite and even mock-worthy to certain ears.
Joe told me later that he hesitated before clicking on the link to watch the Serbia video clip. “I knew if I watched it, it would require a response from me,” he said.
A close friend told me the same thing happened to her. And she asked, “Before you watched it, did you have any warning about what you would see?”
Yes, in that split second, if someone had stopped me to ask, I could have explained that something sad was coming. My eyes were already blurred with tears of grief at the tiny, beautiful child with Down syndrome who received a straitjacket in place of the affection and help she needed.
But no, in that split second I couldn’t have guessed that it would shoot like an arrow to the center of my heart.
Looking back now to that night, it seems that time stood still. As if the whole scene stood instantaneously before my mind.
With one piercing pain that drove all the way in to the core.
“This child is so starved for attention and love.
Katerina is nine. She has Down syndrome.”
You don’t want to let go of my finger, do you?”
My own flesh. She is my own daughter with Down syndrome, my child, my own flesh, a part of me.
The words, “Your own flesh,” echoed in my mind. “Your own flesh. Not hide yourself from your own flesh.”
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?”
If Verity was lying there tied to a bed, we could consider that an emergency and do all we could to rescue her. But when I look upon that child, I do see Verity. I see my own flesh lying there, and a grief-driven urgency rises within me.
O Katerina, the day the American ladies visited you, how long had it been since anyone made eye contact with you? How long since anyone spoke your name? Touched you with kindness in their hands? How long since anyone actually spoke to you? And two years later, do you still lie there, wordlessly waiting for a death that no one will grieve?
He showed our family that halfway around the world, our own flesh has been abandoned, neglected, thrown away by parents and society into unloved hopelessness.
That is why.