It was the middle of May, and we were neck deep in the process of wrapping up loose ends before coming back to the States for a visit when I got a surreal, confusing text from my co-teacher. It simply read, “Marlyn (sic), Edelweiss died because of dengue”. A few months earlier, another one of our girls, Katherine, spent 8 days in the hospital with dengue, a nasty, unpreventable disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Katherine’s battle was long, drawn out, but victorious. So how could Edelweiss, who we saw just a few days earlier, have contracted dengue and lost the battle so incredibly fast?
We have a spunky group of girls in our class. Outspoken and a bit feisty, they are used to standing up for themselves. But Edelweiss was different. The oldest in her family, she was still the “little sister” of the group. She was quiet and shy, as beautiful and sweet as her unique name, and the other girls had an intrinsic, protective nature toward her. When she was missing the Saturday before she passed away, all the girls said she was at the hospital with her mom, who was delivering her newest younger brother. They all knew where she was, as protective big sisters tend to do. What we didn’t know is a day later she would be in the same hospital fighting for her life.
The range of emotions in cases like this are all over the map. I have never felt angry at God, but very curious as to His decision. Edelweiss was loved. Her young parents, while extremely poor, treasured her. They are good parents. Her dad works long hours as a tricycab driver, and while many guys in this neighborhood do the very least they can to get by, he does what he can to provide. Edelweiss usually came to class in matching clothes (yes, a rarity), complete with a cute hairbow or headband in her brushed and styled hair. Her clothes were often old and threadbare, but an effort was made. She was a constant reminder that no matter your economic status, you can still take pride in your appearance. Her younger sister, Lija, is an adorable 2 year old cookie cutter image, and maintains the same level of cleanliness and personal pride. As painful as losing Edelweiss was, I look forward to watching Lija follow in her footsteps.
So why her? I am not saying God should have picked someone else, especially not another child. But, why did God choose someone who had a bright future? Who was loved so deeply here on earth? Even knowing she will never have to deal with the realities so many other kids in this area will face, either tomorrow, or years down the road, I have found myself rationalizing, “why didn’t God bring home someone no one cared about? There are so many right here in this neighborhood who run the streets at night, have no future, and no one who cares what they’re up to?”. Obviously I can’t begin to understand the big plan, but clearly God still has a plan for them on earth. Maybe a plan to find someone who will care for them, who will give them a future. It strengthens my desire to love and reach these kids, because we never know how many days we have with them.