A story by C.R. Roberts.
It’s tough to find a rainbow without being tested by the rain.
Meet Andrea, age 3.
“She’s our miracle girl,” says Gusti, one of my hosts at a Romanian countryside orphanage serving perhaps a dozen children, most under 10.
Andrea was prematurely born at five months on the very day her father died. Gusti attributes this very premature birth to the mother’s shock at the news. The child “had no chance to be normal,” the doctors said. She spent her first year — the entire year — in a hospital bed. She was fed a liquid diet because she was not learning how to eat.
“She would never walk, never talk,” Gusti and his wife Florica were told. “She would be like this forever.”
But forever didn’t quite last.
A few months after giving birth the mother, distraught, offered Andrea’s two older brothers to the home. “The mother brought her boys.
She said she had a daughter also in the hospital.”
A daughter who could not speak who spent her days in bed not reacting to stimulus.
Six pills every three hours, forever.
The mother surrendered her sons, then after that year in the hospital, she offered Andrea to the orphanage.
The doctor asked, “Are you sure this is what you want to do?”
Prayers answered yes. More prayers followed. Andrea didn’t quite wither, but she didn’t quite move ahead.
The mother had eventually settled in “with this man who is very violent and jealous of whoever she talks to and if she gives attention to the children.”
The boys were doing well and Andrea was moved to a bed on the second floor of the home here in the green and quiet village of Bencec.
One afternoon several months later the housekeeper-cook at the home was working in the kitchen and she heard a noise on the stairs.
Andrea was walking down, by herself, walking, by herself.
The housekeeper told me, “I was scared.”
A child who could not walk, walking, who might be blind, seeing, who would never be normal, looking pretty darn normal coming down the stairs.
Hope not only floats, it swims. And it can belong to us all.
C.R. Roberts is a retired journalist from Tacoma, Washington. After studying at the University of Washington he moved to England, and upon his return owned a small business dealing in rare coins and stamps. Later, following a 30-year career as a columnist and business writer at the Tacoma News Tribune, he retired to a life of volunteerism and has made several trips with Kidstown to Romania, India and Nepal. He personally sponsors two young men in Romania.
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