I haven't had to deal with death frequently in my life. But when I have, no matter how much warning is given, it's always painful. Just because death is a reality of life, doesn't make it any easier to process. Since I've worked at VisionTrust, some of the children in our programs have died. While I've grieved for them and for their families, I've never known them personally—until now.
When discussing Edwin's passing, Matt Storer, VisionTrust's CEO said something that's stuck with me, "As we grieve, remember to celebrate him by giving thanks for what our Lord did in and through his life."
So here's to giving thanks to all the Lord did in and through Edwin...
I met Edwin three times over the past couple of years in my travels to the Dominican Republic. I don't pretend to have known him well, but he still had an impact on my life. He was such a gift to me, my teams, his siblings, and to the children at his Transitional Home.
His mother was a drug addict and his father was absent, so Edwin and his brother and two sisters were taken away to live at VisionTrust's partner Transitional Home in 2004. Six years ago when Edwin started to lose movement in his legs, he was diagnosed with Duchenne, the disease that ultimately took his life at the age of 18. As his disease progressed, he lost the ability to run and then walk, leaving him in a wheelchair.
I recently wrote a blog about how the love you've received in your life shapes you. The sentences above might make you think that Edwin's life, full of hardships, was void of love. But that would be the furthest thing from the truth.
In fact, when I think of Edwin, I think of love.
First, the love that was clearly poured into him by the other children at the Transitional Home. Edwin never seemed to be alone. There were always kids there, pushing his wheelchair, bringing him food, talking and joking with him. The kind of love these kids showed him was big in all the small ways.
Second, I think of the love he poured into others. He was shy, but up to play cards, look at pictures or make crafts—anything he could still do to participate with the other kids in the midst of his failing mobility. Win or lose his smile was always so genuine. (While it's not kosher to admit to having favorites, visiting teams always fell in love with him because of his sweet spirit.)
Third, I think of the love God poured into him. After hearing Edwin's story, it was so clear God was fully present in all the hardships and all the joy, bringing him to a home where he was fully loved and fully cared for. Now, I can only imagine his joy at being completely healed in heaven.
Please join me in praying for his siblings (his younger brother also suffers form Duchenne), the staff and children at the Transitional Home that became his family.
The first time I met Edwin in 2012. Pretty sure he had just beaten me real badly in Bingo!
My June 2014 team with Edwin on the left and his brother, Alex, on the right.