The mission doctor drew his penlight back from my little girl’s ear and sent me a sympathetic look.
His voice betrayed a strong Dutch accent, “The infection is bad.”
The young doc had recently been assigned to Ombo clinic, a Catholic mission outpost in Migori village. I had brought our three-year-old Julie in this morning, hoping to remedy her nonstop earache. Julie had sat astride my dirt bike’s gas tank the twenty mile ride in. Was it wise exposing her head – especially her ears – to the breeze out there? A little late to ponder that, I thought.
The physician reached for a sharp-pointed instrument I had no interest seeing.
“I need to pierce the ear drum and you will want to hold her firm.”
What followed was one of the necessary and least welcome assignments presented parents of young children all down through the ages. How to explain the act of heaping pain on top of pain – at the hands of the white-coated man whose job was to bring pain’s relief – and at the hands of daddy, nearest thing to hero in the room?
Why daddy? Why do you help this man hurt me? My daughter’s distressed eyes silently begged the answer more strongly than her voice ever could.
I swallowed hard, the fear inside me rising from the insecurity of my youthful fatherhood. I’ve never gotten schooled in this thing going on here. I hoped my voice – it’s ok, sweetheart, it’ll be okay soon – offered some kind of comfort, assurance that all would be well. Indeed, my greater struggle came from within rather than from the physical act of imprisoning my princess in this smothering hold.
Mercifully, the sharp pierce of the surgeon’s device came and went quickly. Julie’s sudden cry cut through the lab facility, echoing harshly in the uncarpeted, brick-walled room. The whimpers soon trailed off and she grew calmer. I rocked her slowly back and forth. The infectious throbbing went away, the pounding pain gone. Her tense body relaxed. She quieted.
Years afterward, the visit to Ombo Clinic prompted me to reflect.
Of God’s most-recognized titles, ‘Father’ must rank the highest.
Thank you Lord that, when I least understand you or your actions, your care and wisdom and presence get me past my confusion and pain. Eventually.
©2017 Jerry Lout