Advocacy Short Stories Special Feature Special Needs

Health is Wealth, but Love is Life

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

A tragicomedy from Nancy, about Leon, his difficult birth, struggle with life and more, for the Special Feature. A Different Truths exclusive.

Those who have heard the story of baby Leon, have had constant tears running down their cheeks. It is the story of loss, grief, and love beyond what many think they can handle.

Leon’s birth was difficult.  The mother was a young university graduate waiting to report to her first job after three months. Leon’s dad was abroad at the time his beautiful wife went into labour.

The waters broke at midnight. Mary was expecting the baby in ten days, so it was a total surprise. She was rushed to hospital by a kind neighbour.

That was the end of good news. Mary laboured for the next ten hours and by the time the resident doctor took her in for a cesarean section, Mary had lost consciousness and there was no baby movement at all.

Mary only woke up long enough to name the baby. She passed on without ever seeing her son or ever holding her.

Baby Leon was a silent baby. He made no sound after a thirty minutes struggle to have his breath.

Baby Leon was a silent baby. He made no sound after a thirty minutes struggle to have his breath. His father found the body of his wife and the baby with tubes along his nose and IV drip in the nursery. Joseph was inconsolable. But like all things life and death, he had to attend to the final rites of his beloved wife and bury her. Then he came for his baby.

The doctor could not look him in the eye as he explained what he could expect from his son. That it was quite possible that Leon’s brain was damaged by the difficult birth process.

How much could a man take, Joseph though as he fought a fresh bout of tears?

“I see” Joseph mumbled though as a matter of fact, he did not see anything but a long stretch of misery and darkness.

He did take his son home.  He had taken leave to take care of the matters surrounding him. He installed little Leon in his bedroom and took to caring to his son henceforth.

Of course, it was hard, and he had to engage a nurse.

Of course, it was hard, and he had to engage a nurse. The boy grew but slowly; unlike most kids his age, he could not support his frame at eight months and only managed to sit at one-and-a-half-year of age.

Joseph had by then changed careers and was now a stay at home daddy working online to support himself and his son.

His family was supportive but in a very intrusive manner. His mother was of the opinion that he should marry another woman to help him take care of the boy. Joseph knew not to argue though that consideration was a dead thought.

Joseph, having installed CCTV cameras in all the rooms in the house was shocked at the prospective girlfriend’s reaction to Leon.

His sister had tried a hundred times to hitch him to a girlfriend of hers as a potential candidate for a wife. Joseph, having installed CCTV cameras in all the rooms in the house was shocked at the prospective girlfriend’s reaction to Leon. Horror was evident even as she sweetly smiled at him.

As years rolled on, Leon learnt some basics. He smiled more to his dad. He could identify some animals on the chart that Joseph used to teach him. He could call the family dog which was his best friend as well as the sly cat that kept escaping his grasp every time Leon tried to catch it. Those were moments that brought joy and tears to Joseph’s eyes.

Then, one day when Leon was seven, as the family watched cartoons at their living room, Leon turned and said

“aba,ove you”

In tears, he kept saying over and over again, ‘O my God, O my God! I love you too. I love you too son”

Joseph almost keeled over. In tears, he kept saying over and over again, ‘O my God, O my God! I love you too. I love you too son”

He even called his doctor to share the good news seeing that he didn’t have many friends.

He hugged his son on and on and kept tempting him to repeat the magical words. Leon didn’t.

Most afternoons, Joseph took Leon swimming. That was a recommendation from the doctor. So, after the wonderful affirmation that his son may eventually speak normally, it was time for their swimming class.

As he bent over Leon to prepare him for swimming, something seemed strange.

As he bent over Leon to prepare him for swimming, something seemed strange. Leon seemed to be smiling but this time there was no drool on the sides of his mouth. His brown eyes were fixed on his face.

He sat up straight.

“Leon!” he called panic washed over him in waves.

“Leoooon!”

The empty stare and the fixed smile.

The empty stare and the fixed smile.
Joseph let out such a scream, the neighbours came over in droves.
At little Leon’s funeral, Joseph allowed no one to speak of his son but himself. Even then, he chose to recite a poem.
TO LEON, MY BROKEN SPARROW
You came whole baby sparrow,
En route, brokenness grazed your hand,
You landed on loves lap taking the tit away,
Leon, my broken sparrow,
You said you loved me, and I believed,
You held my hand when insanity threatened to take me away,
You taught me lessons that no books could ever do,
You taught me about humanity beyond what psychologists could ever know,
Leon my broken sparrow, how I loved you so,
And knowing about love and how it never ends,
Your body like your mamas here I let you lie,
But in my heart of hearts where soul lives eternal,
I treasure what we had and what we didn’t have, all in the safety of memories,
So goodbye my little sparrow for now you are made whole.

Many thought Joseph had gone mad.

Those who have heard the story of baby Leon, have had constant tears running down their cheeks. It is the story of loss, grief, and love beyond what many think they can handle. Many thought Joseph had gone mad. A few knew that Joseph had accepted his fate with his creator. Tears express both sorrow and joy.

Photos from the Internet


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1 Comment
  1. Rupa Rao 3 weeks ago
    Reply

    Tears express relief, love, joy, ecstasy, pain, hurt, suffering, and lightens the burden often

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