Special Beyond The Word

“Special Beyond The Word” – from Nathaniel Dunigan’s Journal

Thank you for coming to be with us, I said. “Webale okujja.”

My newest little boy, Joel (10), looked up at me as I welcomed him. His first day. So cute.

I saw again that a child’s face forever whispers his heart-secrets. Hers.

Usually there is a breath of innocence. A viva voce of the beauty found only in life’s springtime. A spicy tongue of mischief. And, on my babies’ faces, tragedy always reminds us that he has taken what wasn’t his.

“Kali,” he said. You’re welcome.

A smile. A big smile.

Oh, he’s going to be fine, I thought to myself. Just fine.

“Please wait a second,” I said to the nurse–who was about to escort Joel from the office up to the house. He had been here before. Already had a tour. Now he was actually stepping into his new role as one of our kids. A son. A brother.

“I want to give him a welcome gift.”

I went to the storeroom, and found the perfect item. A little suburban with a trailer.

I would have loved this. He’ll be so excited.

I stepped back into the office.

“Jangu wano,” I said. Come here.

Again he looked at me. Another rich communication of countenance. But this time the message was of realization of change–and the unknown. He was afraid.

“Baanbi, tofayo.” Don’t worry, precious.

It was one of those moments which, from a distance, would frighten me with a challenge beyond my capacity. Even desire.

But reality and actuality somehow wisely direct the actors on their stage.

I took Joel’s little hand. He was trembling. We went to sit on our little wicker sofa.

He cried.

His heart now rippling. Cascading. Another of the roles of our face in the expression of our soul.

I exhausted my Luganda as I searched for the perfect comfort. I was still holding his hand. He was holding mine.

My other hand on his little chest, I could feel his heart beating; his tears falling in quantities too large to be called drops.

But soon, the precious face I was getting to know, Joel, was peaceful again. Hope was staking her claim there.

We smiled.

He stood up. Cleared his throat. Took the nurse’s hand, and let go of mine; stepping bravely into a positive, though still scary, future.

As they left, I realized that my hand was wet. With his tears.

Another message. So powerful. From the heart. Conveyed through the marvelous simplicity of countenance. And soul.

I now know that once your hands are dampened by tears drawn from a child’s darkest well–from what shouldn’t be–you break somewhere inside.

And your hands never dry.

But–because tragedy crumbles at the beholding of compassion’s lovely face–the brokenness becomes quite special.

Special beyond the word. Beautiful beyond hope. Good beyond best. And real beyond truth.


Webale okujja.