Community • 2018

A convoy of vehicles accompanied us to the airport. One final demonstration of how the Herberts and their friends always show up, capturing the magic of what it looks like when a community of strangers, for the sake of love, become family.

We stood as a group in front of the elevator doors where the six of us would go ahead, returning to a land we knew as home, though our little ones could barely remember it. What they knew now is a yellow home in Woodland Hills that welcomed us as if we belonged there.

Mama and Baba Micah, who walked every single step alongside us for 477 days, would stay behind. Their love carried us, and now we were giving final hugs.

How could we even begin to appreciate all the miles covered in the last fifteen months? We had left this place with a hope and a dream for the boys to have a chance to live free from the disease that had threatened them daily.

We returned holding the miracle of their healing. There hadn’t been a magic button to take the pain away. Rather, it was a slow and deliberate path that led from death to new life.

The road twisted and turned through the green hills. I knew each of them by heart, and now my feet would touch the ground once more. As we approached our little orange home, the African sun was setting. “Say hi to Mama Micah,” Geoffrey said, sending sun-friend back to America, to a land and people who had loved us so well.

I heard the sound of singing long before I saw the sea of faces—hundreds of our neighbors gathered to line the dirt road leading to our home. The sounds of their celebration and rejoicing surrounded us from all sides, carrying us across the threshold.

When we reached our gate, Alice stood in the middle of the crowd waiting to welcome us. We were divided by a ceremonial blue and pink ribbon strung across the gateway. Once we cut the ribbon, we would officially be home.

Geoffrey did not wait for the ribbon to be cut. He crawled under the moment he spotted Alice.

Night after night, Geoffrey had sent sun-friend to greet Alice. For him, Kenya was never referenced without including her. And now, they were back together. She was his home, and they hugged one another with a love deeper and wider than oceans. All was not perfect nor was it complete. But they were together, and for now, that was enough.

We cut the ribbon and danced and sang among a crowd of witnesses. The extravagant welcome was a gift to our weary bodies and souls. Another moment where time could have stood still to tell us once more: This is what love looks like. A message of “well done” being poured out like salve upon our healing wounds.

Within weeks of us moving back to Kenya, Living Room opened a new forty-nine-bed hospital where we have a wing dedicated for children and their parents to come and receive cancer care and hospice services.

Each time I walk into the space where colorful quilts are spread across hospital beds and toys sit on a brightly painted shelf, I  see the pain and hope with well-acquainted eyes.

It isn’t difficult for me to sit beside a mother anticipating the death of her child and to wonder how much it hurts. I remember sitting there too. I have also experienced in the dark the untellable love that carried our family through.