Charlene Chepchumba, a longtime guest of Kimbilio Hospice, has taught me a secret, as quoted by The Little Prince:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eyes.”
The first time I saw Chumba was on a Friday evening in early 2011. I saw a little girl who was on the verge of starvation. I saw a child who had, in so many ways, been abandoned. I saw the horror of her condition which did not seem compatible with life.
Loving her was the only thing left to do. I am embarrassed now by how much I underestimated the intangible power of love. And yet, time and time again, it has proven itself to be enough; in truth, love has been the essential piece for both the living and the dying at Kimbilio.
In Chumba’s story, there has been a share of the terrible and the beautiful of this world, and I have been a witness to both. Chumba has severe cerebral palsy and is dependent on the care of Living Room’s team for nearly every aspect of her life. She is unable to walk, coordinate her movements, or utter a word; and while these limitations have significant impact on her life and the lives of her caregivers, there is much Chumba has to offer our community at Living Room.
Chumba laughs often and with exuberance. The sound of her laughter is magical and a gift to all who are near.
She loves singing and music. Even though she cannot articulate the lyrics or sing in tune, she actively participates. Another gift to all who know and love her. I can only imagine what it does to God’s heart.
Personally, I have been changed by the light I see in Chumba’s eyes and the acceptance I feel whenever I am near her. She has loved and affirmed me in ways I know not how to describe but treasure with all I am. In my heart, her weaknesses and inabilities dull in comparison to her beauty and strengths.
I thank God for the privilege of loving Chumba in ways which lead towards life and healing, both for her and for our entire team.