Friday, July 20, 2012

The story of grief...

It's morning here, Saturday morning.  As I sit and listen to the waking of noises, big and small, my fingers are stiff because it is so cold outside this morning.  It's winter in Zambia.  

Before today's needs steal yesterday from me, I have to sit and process, and pray.  

First, you must know Davison.  He's in grade 7 and 14 years old.  Hard working, respectful, beautiful, loving, yet has a splash of strut. Here is pic of him with the crazy snake killed on the farm.

In March.... 

 I visited his home for the first time.  We were a few feet away and he stops me.  He looks and says "My brother, I have a sick brother."  I asked him to explain and he wasn't able to.  He said "You will see."  As we went into the home, I met Willy for the first time.  I entered the dark, small house.  It was there I saw him.  Willy laid in the middle of the floor on a mattress, unable to move.  He was paralyzed from the waist down. He had been like this since 2008, when he was diving in shallow water at the river. Now, he was 21 years old. 

It was then I fully understood why Davison was always rushing home after school, or why he was working around his home so much.  

I sat and talked with Willy, and it didn't take long to see that he was smart.  He enjoyed to read and listen to the radio.  Davison would also read to him, but Davison said "He reads better than I do!"  So often, Willy read to Davison.  
We ended the visit with my promise to send him some books to read, as long as he would return them.  And so, that's what we did.  

2 weeks ago... 

Davison was in my house, and he asked for a Bible.  Litterally, the next day a team arrived and brought extra Bibles.  There was one Bible that stood out to me, and was written for teenage boys.  It was perfect!  So, I gave Davison that Bible and he was very happy!!

6 days ago... 

Davison once again found himself at my house, and we were washing dishes together.  I asked if he was enjoying his Bible and he said "very much, it is very nice."  I asked about Willy, and if he needed any new books.  Davison said he was doing fine, and that they were reading the Bible together.  "Willy reads it in Bemba, and then I read the same verse in English."  

Conversation over. 

2 nights ago... 

Davison was sitting with Willy.  Willy asked for some water because his heart was racing.  Within minutes he died. 


I hear the news.  I glance and see Davison lined up at school in the morning.  I walk up to him and he cannot make eye contact.  I say, "Davison, are you ok?"  He shakes his head NO with eyes straight ahead.  The tears begin.  I take him by the arm and walk him to a quiet place.  There, I sit and cry with him for a long time.  There, I pray God's presence for his family, despite the lack of understanding "why"... and there, I prayed that Davison would be able to think about the day that Willy can RUN to him in heaven.. and there I prayed God's word would bring peace to Davison.  

Davison leaves school and returns to his family. 

2 hours later... 

I find myself, 3 other staff, and 2 students walking up to Davison's home.  The black burning in the street is evidence of the grief.  People are everywhere.  As we approach the door, Davison walks out, gets us and leads us inside the home.  Mourners line the narrow, dirt hallway, and fill the room where Willy still remained on the mattress where I first met him. The crying of his mother and sister is almost more than I can bear.  We sat, and we prayed, and we cried.  

4 hours later... 

I'm driving a van with Sheila and another staff to provide the transport to the burial, for the body.  We pull up, and a box painted like marble casket exit the home.  The men, grandmothers, mother, and sister enter the van with the body.  To say that 10 minute drive was the longest of my life would be an understatement.  Driving slow over every bumpy, narrow path in the compound... out into the bush.  The rhythmic wailing increased as we approached the cemetery.  My knuckles gripped the steering wheel as an alternative to completely breaking down emotionally. 

In the middle of the bush were mounds and mounds of burials... the reminder that death is simply a part of every day life here.  The funeral began, the wailing continued.  I scanned the crowed for the boy my heart hurt the most for, Davison.  I saw him, sitting on the far side of the burial ground... and it was there I saw him... with that Bible out, reading.  The Bible I'd given him 2 weeks earlier.  He was reading his Bible... the favorite pastime of him and Willy.  My heart was so full of grief for him, and at the same time filled with gladness that He recognizes where peace comes from.  

Before long, it was time to go... and Davison walks to us, and we put him in the van, with his other family.  The grieving continued back to the home.  Davison's face buried in his hands.  As we arrive and I lift the back of the van open, I see their faces of grief.  I help lift them up out of the van.  They disappear into the house.  We sit for a few minutes, say our goodbyes, and leave.  


Silence falls on my heart... yet the noise of life continues. 



  1. So, so sorry to hear this. Thanks, Mitzi, for the heart-wrenching, yet beautiful post. As always, you are in our prayers. So thankful you are there for Davison.

  2. I love Davison & you guys even more...
    Lifting you up with my 4 precious prayers to Jehovah Shalom.
    Much love,

  3. Wow, Mitzi. This is very evoking. Such a real life event in Zambia. It hits home even more, since I can envision the homes and the people. God is evident in your work! We pray for continued energy and heart felt compassion as you have demonstrated so vividly. Love you all! Yvonne Lehman

  4. My heart aches for Davison...his normal has been shattered...yet again...I pray God will use you all there to show the resilience that of God's grace & mercy.
    prayers ~ the Millers :)

  5. so hard my friend. come Lord Jesus.

  6. Thanks for your beautiful words. God is good and able to use all things to bring his children to Himself. I thank God often for your work there in Zambia and how you are there for Davison and his family right now. Praying for KG, too!