"Hey," I asked, with pseudo-casualness. "Is anyone here a plastic surgeon?"
Really?? I asked myself internally. Did that just happen? Perhaps you don't quite understand....the number of virtual roadblocks and cement walls and alligator-filled moats we have transcended trying to achieve this very encounter, this moment in time. And here, finally, it was presenting itself. So shockingly simply.
"Okay," he said. "I'll do him tomorrow."
My mind stuttered with momentary incredulity. What...you mean...tomorrow...like...the day after today tomorrow? Unbelievable. Outwardly, I nodded, with an false air of calm professionalism. Inwardly, I laughed -- a laugh of deep, fatigued relief.
So, already overwhelmed, you can only imagine my reaction when he also agreed to do surgery on Rony, our other boy with facial trauma -- the one who'd had Bot fly larvae growing in his eye socket, and for whom we'd also been searching desperately for a surgeon.
I merely scrolled to Rony's picture on my phone, and thrust the photo at him, breathlessly challenging, "Okay, well, while we're at it... what about him?"
After he inspected the picture, and heard Rony's story, he said, "Okay, I'm leaving in a couple of days, but I'll fit them both into my schedule. Bring them both back this afternoon."
I stared blankly for a moment, then a smile cracked my face. Unbelievable.
"This afternoon," I repeated to him, then nodded. "We'll be here." I retreated backwards through the door of the surgical suite, with a forced casual wave of my hand...then turned, and with a great lack of professionalism, sprinted back to the truck, intending to retrieve the boys before this vortex of luck stopped spinning.
So, today, beaming mother stood up in the courtyard of the tent hospital, little Emmanuel squirming at her feet, and told our community she had something to say. She closed her eyes, and began to sing, a deep, resonant rendition of a Creole hymn, "Alleluia..." All the patients fell silent as she sang, her little toddler at her feet trying unsuccessfully to climb up her dress. She swayed and raised her hands in song, thanking her God for healing her child.
Her gratitude is impressive, particularly if you know the rest of her story. This woman, who stood up to sing her thanks for all she has received, had three other children. But they are now dead. They were all crushed -- and are still buried -- in the rubble that was her house, which collapsed in the earthquake of 12 January 2010. The house under which her little Emmanuel was trapped, then plucked free. Her shattered little boy, Emmanuel...is all that remains of her family.
Emmanuel. Beautiful, vigorous, little spirit. Miracle boy. His mother's last hope.
Made whole again...by a stranger in blue scrubs...who made the time.