When I first saw Lidia I knew she was a gift from God. No one other than my powerful God could create such a beautiful, yet small and delicate girl, I thought to myself. She was sitting in a baby walker wearing a purple flowered onesie. She had a quizzical facial expression with her eyebrows furrowed at the top of her head. In that one second of seeing her, my heart started to race, and I fell deeply in love with her. I put my hands under her body to pick her up, yet as a 3 year old, she felt no heavier than a newborn. As her lips started to tighten, she took a deep breath and accepted the fact that she was not strong enough to hold her head up. As I sat down in a rocking chair, her small body sank into my arms and doubts of insecurity consumed my body. I have no idea how to care for a baby, let alone one with special needs, I thought to myself. Lidia stared up at me with comforting clear brown eyes and all fear ran from my body. Her small delicate finger ran up to my face where she softly stroked my nose. The touch of her cold pinky on my nose forced my throat to tighten and my eyes to water. Every few seconds, when I would stroke her hair, she would let out a huge, genuine smile from ear to ear. Even with rotten teeth, milk dripping down her chin, and a weak body, she was gorgeous.
Over the next few days, the orphanage became my home. The smell of baby food became very familiar and comforting in my mind. I got to know each and every little baby on a deeper lever. I figured out what made their little hearts jump for joy and what made them cringe and bury their heads in my shoulder. As I sprawled out on the floor to play with the babies one day, one thing dawned on me. Every day Lidia sat in a high chair in the corner unnoticed while the other babies ran around. No noise came out of her mouth to tell people, “Hello, I exist.” As I closely studied her, I realized that even though she sat in the corner alone, she remained jubilant. When one of the babies fell on their tootsie, Lidia would start to giggle and cover her face with her small hands as if she were embarrassed. Lidia’s joyful spirit came from within and did not depend on how much attention she got.
The next time I went to the orphanage, something was very unfamiliar and different. The smell of blended up vegetables was the same. The noise of crying babies was the same. The touch of delicate babies was the same, yet as I looked around, I noticed that Lidia was not in her normal spot. As I walked over to her crib, I heard a loud snoring sound that seemed impossible to come from a baby. When I reached the crib and looked inside, I saw Lidia with drool down her chin. That day as I watched Lidia, I had to hide my eyes. She had a very hard time breathing and refused to eat. There were a few times where I would catch a glimpse of her delicate smile, only to find it quickly vanish. On many occasions, her eyes would widen, her lips would stretch horizontally, and a terrified look would consume her face. I saw her small little body trying to fight through the pain. I quickly dismissed my thought of, maybe God wants to take her home soon, demanding myself not to think that way.
The next morning I received a call from a friend with news that left me speechless. “Lidia passed away last night,” spoke Naomi in a hushed tone. “What..? What happened,” I said in a confused voice stuttering over my words. “She stopped breathing and went to be with the Lord,” Naomi continued to say. As I took in the information I just heard, my head started to hurt and my mind went blank. Naomi’s words became slurred as I tried to tune her out. I felt my palms grow warm and knew I needed to be alone to regain my thoughts.
As I hung up the phone, I ran to my room and started to write about my precious Lidia in hopes of never forgetting how wonderful she was. For the next couple hours, images of her were stuck in my mind. My heart struggled with whether to be grateful or grieved that she had passed on.
When the thought of Lidia now comes up, I wonder why God had to take her so soon. At 3 years old, she had not yet had the chance to live her life, yet maybe God was sparing her that. When I get past the sadness of how she spent her last painful days, I find myself focusing on the joyful parts. Lidia is now in Heaven with her Father where she has a new fully working body. I picture Lidia in heaven dancing at the realization that she can breathe perfectly. A part of me believes that joy always consumed her face because she knew the pain was going to be over soon. Even though she did not live very long on this Earth, she now gets the chance to live an eternity with her Father. Lidia was a beautiful gift from God and every time I think of her, I can’t help but smile.
Tasha Reed will be graduating from High School in a few short weeks, and beginning her freshman year at Grace Bible College in the fall. She has a heart for the Lord and serving him as is obvious in this post