Friday, July 6, 2012

Looking Back Part 4: In Loving Memory

This is Part 4 of the Looking Back series, previous parts are Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

Awhile back, I posted about when our dear friend Max visited us in April. With all the joy in Max’s visit, there is also a pang of sadness, and a part of the visit I don’t like to think about. My heart aches knowing what Max told us.

I met many people at the institution- there were over 300 residents. I loved everyone I met with a love that I can't explain in human terms. Each and every one of those people will forever hold a special place in my heart. But out of everyone I met there were a couple people that I was instantly drawn too, who captured my heart at first sight.

Even though we hadn’t brought Elijah home, and I had about zero experience with Down syndrome, those with Ds who were there captured my heart. My favorite was Sasha, who was always so joyful and outgoing. I found lots of pictures of him, because he was always smiling an posing for the camera!
Sasha and I - one of my favorite pictures from the institution!
There was this man, who I think Max said his name when he was here, but I can’t remember for the life of me what it was. He was more reserved and shy, and we didn’t see too much of him.

 Him with Max  - He got his head shaved. :(
And then there was Sergey. Oh sweet Sergey. Always had his tongue out, and always running around getting in on the action. I don’t have many pictures of him though, because he would be the one by or behind the camera, not in front of it. He’s not in the group shots, because he was over by the people taking the pictures watching them. He was precious.
Like most of the guys, having never been in the water (we took a busload of residents to the "beach" muddy yucky river for a pool party on a couple different days), Sergey was a bit hesitant at first, but with prompting from Renee..
...he was soon in and splashing. :)
He is sitting in the middle here, the one with his tongue out. ♥
And yes, that would be my dad in the white shirt, and yes, he has make-up on. LOL That's a story for another day. :)
Three sweet guys. Blessed with an extra chromosome, and because of it stuck in the mental institution the rest of their life. But sadly, not only are they shunned by society, they are by others in the institution as well. They are the weaker ones, and no one cares if they are beat up on. Sasha would probably be the only one of the three able to defend himself, and that’s probably why it seemed like the others all accepted him more.
Max asked when he was here if I remembered Sergey with Ds from the institution.

I shook my head struggling to remember who he was.
“The one with the big tongue that was always sticking out.”

Oh that rings a bell…. I went to my trip pictures on the computer to find a picture of him.

Then the bomb drops. Three words that broke my heart.

“He was murdered.”

“What?? Why? By who??”

“Because they got in a fight, and he was too weak to defend himself, so he was the target. Most of the men are pretty friendly, those were the ones you met and got to know but there are a few violent ones.”

I turned back to the computer to hide the tears welling up in my eyes, and my voice broke as I saw the only picture I found of him and asked if it was him.

“Yes, him.”
Hearing about the death of an orphan who never felt the love of a family, an orphan who you hadn’t advocated or prayed for at all, is one thing. Yes, it makes you sad, and can break your heart.

But to hear about the death of someone you met and got to know and loved is a whole different thing. Not to mention the fact he was murdered because his extra chromosome made him weaker. It feels like your heart gets ripped in two.

That is the part of Max’s visit I don’t like to think about. Like I said at the beginning of this post, my heart aches. Badly. Not just an emotional pain, but it’s physical too.

So as I pray for protection for the other “weak” people that my heart has grown close too, esp the man in the middle above, I want to remember Sergey.
I don’t know his story, or his background. Besides when Max or members of his team visited that institution he wasn’t loved. But now I’m sure he must be dancing at the feet of Jesus and signing with the angels. Because I know he had to be one of the ones who said the salvation prayer with us at least 10 times, because he was one who followed us around, doing everything over and over again. And he believed, with that childlike faith that everyone should have.

So I want to thank God for his life. Although he didn’t have much going for him, he lived life to the fullest, and brought joy to many others along the way.

Sergey, I know you are having a glorious time up there in heaven dancing at the feet of Jesus. I love you and miss you buddy. ♥

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