today, i write to honor the life of a friend. i met Lamie around Easter of
this year, while i was still in Liberia. he was sick and listless, unable to move (presumably because of a stroke he had suffered.) he was sleeping on the ground, in a pile of garbage, directly across from a dumpster. during the day, he was there, baking in the hot sun. at night, he was there, exposed to the elements. he was starving; he was thirsty; he was homeless. he had been abandoned and left to die. upon investigating, some friends and i were able to find out more of his story, and our hearts were broken for this man who had suffered so greatly. we knew we had to help. nobody deserved to have to live as he did.
fast forward a few months. Lamie was off the streets, had a roof over his head, and seemed to be improving. it had been a rough go, both for he and those of us involved in helping him. he’d gone from sleeping in the garbage heap to sleeping in his own room to sleeping on my front porch to sleeping in a Liberian-run facility for the elderly. poor Lamie had been tossed around from place to place, and my heart broke as i imagined how badly he ached for home.
then, it was all of sudden august. it was nearing the end of my stay in Liberia, and i knew that i had to walk away from Lamie. i knew i had to entrust him to the care (and i use that term loosely, unfortunately) of the people running the home he was staying in. more importantly, i knew i had to entrust him to God. i had to be okay with walking away, not knowing what would happen, but knowing i had done all i could to love Lamie and care for him as Jesus would have.
this is the last photo i have of Lamie, taken only a week or so before i left Liberia. this is how i always want to remember him:: fat cheeks, bright eyes, and a tender spirit. he never once complained about his situation or all that he had gone through. he would smile wistfully as he remembered his younger years, when he had been a tailor and had a family. he’d get this dreamy look on his face, and i knew he was longing to go back to that time. yet he also accepted the cards life had dealt him, and i believe he really did try to make the best of them.
unfortunately, Lamie died last month (and i just found out about it today.) i have no idea what happened, other than he had been sick. i don’t know what he was feeling when he passed away, if he was lonely, if there was anyone at all by his side. and if i let it, the not-knowing will shatter my heart and crush my spirit.
so instead, i choose to join my friend Ashley in seeking the joy in an otherwise terribly sad situation. she says it best in her tribute to our dear friend::
Lamie’s body is whole again. Lamie died knowing that those crazy white people loved him. We fed, clothed and gave cold water. We fought for truth, justice and for what was right. It didn’t matter that we were different or that he was from a certain tribe or that he was a stranger. It didn’t matter that he was physically disabled–his heart was gold! He brought laughter and unity and compassion. He was an example, and a reminder. There is no happily-ever-after for this story and this morning, Lamie’s story came to a close. But, I know that his story and his life weren’t told and lived to be forgotten. He lived his story so that he could be remembered. He faced insurmountable obstacles, but he kept that spark in his eye. [He had] joy in his smile, despite his circumstances. [He was a] literal example for us to be the Good Samaritan. Lamie was my friend–my beautiful, laughter-filled, sweet-spirited (unless he wanted a haircut from Momo) friend. At one point, Lamie had taken everything out of me, but I pressed on because Jesus filled me and equipped me to keep going. Lamie was and is a part of my story…and a reason why I just can’t walk away from Liberia.
Lamie was–and is–a lesson to me to love others. to love freely, wildly, without holding back. to love with my whole heart. even when it hurts. even when i think i have nothing left to give. he taught me to love others because sometimes, my love is the only Jesus they will ever know.