Every parent’s greatest fear. Goodnight little Nathan

A week ago Saturday when I came home from the library, Nathan, our little one-and-a-half-year-old-neighbor was sitting in his doorway facing ours (just two meters between us – our very closest neighbors.) I said a few words to him and waved. He smiled, waved, and watched me walk into the apartment . . . and kept watching me. I waved a little more then started to close the door. It felt strange to close the door with his cute little face still staring at me, but I couldn’t sit there waving at him forever. It was the last time I would ever see him.

His mom took him to church the next morning (his father goes back to pastor his home church every weekend – about three hours away.) Everything seemed like a normal Sunday, but when they went to visit friends after church, he suddenly started throwing up. She took him to a clinic right away. (He had intestinal surgery  several months ago, but has been totally fine for a long time.) The clinic put him on an IV drip and sent him to Nairobi Hospital. Later that night, he started having some trouble breathing. At 12:30 midnight he took three quick breaths and his heart stopped beating. They quickly resuscitated him and rushed him into the ICU, but at 3am, the doctor told the parents that Nathan’s senses were not responsive and that he only had a 5% chance of surviving. The official time of death is 5:30 am, but as far as his parents are concerned, he left them at 12:30 [almost exactly a week ago as I write this]. One of his uncles is a medical doctor and after going over all the records assured the family the hospital had done everything they possibly could for him. (This hospital has all the latest state-of-the-art equipment, so he was in the best possible place for any contingencies.)

That same night, Mrs. Njuguna, the kids head teacher, kept having a dream of a cold, dark wind that came and snatched away one of the kids. She asked all the school teachers to pray for protection for the kids the following morning then heard the sad news.

We’ve stumbled around in shock and shed a lot of tears this week. Yesterday (Saturday), a large group of friends, classmates, and professors went to the family home to share the funeral with his amazing community and bury the little boy. It was a really sad occasion as you can imagine.

His father Michael said a few touching words that I will never forget. I can’t recall them as eloquently here as he read them but it was something to the effect that: “We really enjoyed you while you were here; you were like an angel. You brought us so much joy [so many touching memories of his first words, his first steps, singing and dancing with him, all the unique and fun memories.] We know that you are in a better place now and that we will see you again, but we will really miss you. You can never be replaced. [And then the really hard part . . . ]

Now, we commit you into God’s hands . . . Good night Nathan.


8 thoughts on “Every parent’s greatest fear. Goodnight little Nathan

  1. steph says:

    I’m so very very sorry. It’s a tragedy for everyone. He’s a little angel.

  2. Rombo says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss this is to all of you. Peace to you.

  3. Polycarp says:

    Ben, I had thought about doing what you do, but how can I even deal with half of what you have seen? You and your family, and this family, will be in our prayers.

  4. Ben says:

    Thanks for your prayers.

    It’s true that the last two months and the last year (Kenya’s crisis) have been especially traumatic for all of us here.

    But I do have a couple “balancing” thoughts that I like to keep in mind:
    1.) I can remember tragedies from my time in Washington, DC that seemed equally as traumatic, or tragedies that maybe weren’t as traumatic, but equally sobering.
    2.) Our time here is also been one of unparalleled joy and community. To list just one example, there are times here when the singing lifts me to the edge of heaven in a way I have never experienced anywhere else.

    So while it may be true that we have experienced deeper sadness here than we did in the states, we have also experienced much deeper joy as well.

    My friends here teach me a lot about experiencing God’s gift of life to the fullest.

  5. May the great God continue strenghtening Nathan’s dad and mom.

  6. […] went to sleep in the bedroom of Nathan, our one-year-old next door neighbor who had died just a little over a month ago. Those of you who […]

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