Most girls have that one boy who first stole, broke or became their heart. In most cases, there is a romantic story that goes with it for the love we have for family members is expected, biological even and rarely exciting. The first boy I fell in love with though was my nephew, Aaron. I was 18 years old when he was born. Anyone of us who has had interactions with babies know that it is fairly easy to love babies – especially when they are related to you. Aaron was no exception. He stole my baby-of-the-family status and I did not mind a single bit. I loved him the second he was born and sang to him before bedtime for many weeks after that. My love for him was great but nothing out of the ordinary – until he fell ill.
On a Thursday afternoon, five weeks after his birth, he had to have an operation because his body was rejecting his food (I will not go into any further details than this). It was meant to be a simple surgery and his recovery, we were told would be a matter of days. The following Sunday morning, a doctor making his rounds on the ward realised that something was awfully wrong with him. X-rays conducted immediately afterwards showed that cotton wool had been left inside of him from the previous surgery and that the infection had spread. Dr Todorovic who was Chief of Surgery at the time was called in. He agreed to operate but explained to my brother that his son would very likely not make it. Given we are Christians, he advised him to get the last rites done – just in case. I was working in a hotel boutique that morning when that call came. I rushed to get into a taxi to get me to the hospital and as I walked in, there was Bishop French in the middle of a prayer. I had missed the conversation with the doctor and had a nurse explain the entire situation to me. Even as I write this, almost 18 years later, my heart hurts. I met pain that day – proper painful pain. I walked out of that ward and kept walking. I could not stop. I found myself infront of the Good Shepherd Church at Mont Fleuri and decided to go in – even if I am not Catholic. I tried to make a deal with God. I asked him to take me instead and as ridiculous as it sounds, I meant it. Maybe it was an emotional reaction to the pain and my first experience at the possibility of a great loss, but I meant it. I would have died, happily, that day if it had meant that Aaron would live.
A 7-hour surgery the next day, saved that baby’s life. Dr Todorovic looked like a broken man when he walked out of that theater, so much so, we thought we had lost Aaron. God, it would seem, had other plans.
I often think back to the exchange I had with the higher power in that Church that day. I have, since then, added two boys and a little girl on the list of people I would die for. But Aaron, he was there first, and almost 17 years later, he is there still.
Photo: The day I became Aaron’s Godmother.