This morning I got up and gave my children a hug. I snuggled them, kissed them, told them I loved them. My children are happy. My children are healthy. My children are alive. I pray every day they stay that way, though this is entirely outside my control.
This morning we got a message that an 8 month old baby of one of our church members died yesterday afternoon of a mysterious illness. They baby was taken to the hospital but there was nothing they could do for the baby. It had gotten too sick, too fast.
This afternoon James preached a funeral for a baby.
No one ever wants to attend a funeral for a child, but here in Uganda, it’s far more up close and personal. Here, you go to the home of the individual that died. Their body is lying in a casket (or wrapped in a blanket or cloth) in a room in the family’s home. The women sit together with the woman of the house who suffered the loss.
The rest of the people sit outside the house on benches or on the ground.
Today, they brought the casket outside and placed it on a small bench that was still bigger than the casket. The women had made a shroud and the men made a small cross with the child’s name.
We sang hymns in Swahili, some of my favorite hymns, actually. Then James preached. They gave a short eulogy and took up an offering. Taking an offering is often the only way the family can afford to pay for the expenses of the funeral.
Then several men came forward and took up the casket and we all walked to the graveyard.
They said a few words at the gravesite and we sang another hymn. Then they buried the baby. The father and mother put the first dirt into the ground. They finished by marking the site with the cross they’d made.
It’s raw. It’s personal. It’s harsh. It’s the way they’ve done every funeral I’ve ever been to here.
Tonight I came home from church and hugged my healthy children once again. Days like this help keep a person from taking anything for granted.