Today marks one week until I leave Rwanda. Saying goodbye to this amazing country and to my wonderful boys is going to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Knowing that I will never see some of the faces that have become a part of my life, ever again is really unfathomable. I want to share the story of one little boy who has changed my life. He has taught me what it really means to love unconditionally. I have changed his name to Spiderman (not to be confused with the comic book character, though both are super heroes) to protect his identity.
There are people in this world who shine so bright that their presence can be blinding and impossible to ignore. Spiderman is one of those light. He is changed me in ways I cannot explain and forever left his footprint on my heart.
He caught my eye the first time I saw him. A huge toothy grin, and scars on his face, a wisdom in his eyes. There was just something about him. The first thing I learned about his case was that everyone was on his case, the toughest in the center. In his first few days he ran away several times and his little body has a hard time dealing with withdrawals. He told Rafiki his father's occupation was to beat him and many days he sat alone, away from the other boys. He struggles in school and cannot retain information very well, a possible side effect of his early drug use. Some days are quite hard on Spiderman. I am no doctor but I believe he suffers from PTSD. Joseanne told us his whole story one day after she spent hours comforting him. It goes like this:
One day Spiderman returned home to find his father's dead body. He had been murdered. He sat and cried and cried for help but no one came. He worries the same people will come back for his mother. He told Joseanne that he would rather they take him instead- he loves his mother so much. He loves his mother so much because she loves him so much. She would tell Spiderman to behave so that his father would not beat him. Spiderman remembers his mother telling him that when his father beat him it was like she was taking the blows because he is her heart.
Spiderman has suffered so much in his short life. He has seen things his young eyes never should have seen and he bares the scar. He has days where he can clearly not handle it all. Tears well in his eyes and he cannot form a smile. These days kill me because his light should never be dimmed. But then there are the days when he takes me by the hands, his big eyes gleaming, and says, "I love you."
A lover and a fighter my Spiderman is. I wish for him to know his greatness everyday of his life. His face is imprinted forever in my mind, his hand will never leave mine, and his heart is now part of my soul. He is a being unlike any other and a little boy who makes living in this crazy world bearable.