Wednesday was a difficult day. I showed up for my evening shift and the charge nurse, unaccountably solemn, gathered the nurses together while she sent the translators over to another ward.
Daniel, one of our translators, was killed instantly when his motorbike collided with a truck Wednesday morning. He was married with two little girls, and his face lit up whenever he spoke about them. He could make trumpet sounds with his mouth to accompany himself on the guitar or piano.
I have memories of Daniel playing "trumpet" while Patrick played the guitar and sang, calming restless patients as they tried to settle down to sleep the night before surgery.
Yesterday I drove with some other nurses to visit his house and express our sorrow with his wife and family. Between the nurses and day volunteers, we were too many for one car so some followed behind on hired zemis. At the house, we were too many for the seats, but we stood and sat and prayed and cried and sang together. We reminded each other that we loved Daniel, but that God loves him more than we ever could. We reminded ourselves that God alone knew the number of his days, and God alone knows why the number of his days was so much shorter than we might have wished.
We reminded each other that God is the father of the fatherless and the husband to the widow. Never before have those words had such profoundly real implications to me as I sat and watched Daniel's two little girls seek their mother with questions in their eyes--who are all these people, and why are they in our house? Why is everyone so sad?
And we kept coming back to one theme: thankfulness. Surprising, perhaps, under the circumstances... but never more true.
We are thankful for Daniel and for his life, and for the ways in which we were allowed to share it. We are thankful for the way he loved his wife and family. We are thankful for the way he interacted with patients on the wards, with laughter and with guitar and with smiles and songs.
And we are thankful that Daniel is in heaven, finally fully alive, making people do double-takes as they search for the trumpet.