i remember this little girl, a little girl i can clearly say helped me fall in love with malawi. she was just a little bundle of joy that summer of 2009. yes, she was a little apprehensive of us white people- but she was not hesitant to play and dance and laugh. i thought she was so tiny and wonderful. her name is chrissy. not to pick favorites, but she was one of the favorites from that first summer in malawi.
fast forward to summer 2010. it was during my first weeks in malawi and we were going to chipoka to see the kids in that project. i knew that chrissy was one of the few children in this project and i was anticipating seeing her face again, but as the morning hours flew by there was no sight of chrissy. after our work there was done we were told we had a home to visit, the home of chrissy who was once again very sick. i remember seeing her that day and i remember the horrible feeling i got from seeing her face. the life and joy had faded. we took chrissy back with us for what would be 3 weeks. 3 weeks with little improvement. chrissy always was a stubborn girl :) in those 3 weeks i made so many memories. sometimes i catch myself whining like chrissy “chippppsss, i want chips!” “sweets, all of the sweets!.” in those 3 weeks i watched this girl receive so much love. so much attention. but i also watched her suffering. her 6 year old body was weak like an 80 year old with the face of a sweet 2 year old. swollen eyes, skin and bones, and a protruded tummy.
those 3 weeks passed quickly. and we knew when it was time for her to go home with her family. a family who loves her and cares for her. but that day was not easy. i remember watching from the mini bus window as we passed her off to her grandpa. her family anxious for her to be home again, but none of us ready to say goodbye. i remember thinking that day, this could be the last time i see her.
fast forward a month after my return from malawi. the dreaded message came. the message i half expected, half did not want to ever hear. chrissy passed away. i remember the flood of emotion that hit me. the sadness and tears that the malawi i knew would never be the same, and the little girl i had grown to know and love so much would not be there next time. it hurt, and it still hurts. and i still ask God everyday why these things have to happen. but in the midst of the hurt and sadness and pain i realized something so much more important. i realized that chrissy is dancing and laughing and running and playing like a 6 year old girl should do. she doesn’t have AIDS anymore. none of the illnesses can define her anymore. she is with her Jesus. and she can have all of the chips and sweets she wants! sure there is hurt and sadness for those of us here without her, and for her family who sees the void in their home everyday. but there is joy and healing and hope in the life of chrissy.