When we first arrived here in Panama, we noticed a nice, Indigenous couple who had with them a small two-month-old baby. I didn’t really take much notice of them, but 2 weeks ago I was walking home, and mom told me the little baby had died. I was shocked! When I saw the baby, he looked fine. But the reason he died was because he had a hole in the chamber of his heart. The problem was bad enough that he didn’t even live to see his third month of life.
The next day, school got out early so those who wanted to attend could go to the funeral. When we arrived at the little cemetery in the middle of a large field, there was a small outdoor chapel where we met. There was a tiny coffin on a bench in the middle of the room made out of pine painted white.
Someone played guitar, and everyone sang a couple of songs in Spanish that I couldn’t decipher. Then the base directer said something, (again, I didn’t understand what he said), then the family members spoke. My parents told me later that the mom said she was grateful to have had the chance to hold her baby and love him for the short two months of his life. She said the only thing that gave her joy was knowing that baby Dionisio was with Jesus, and that they would see him again one day.
Next, we went to a hole that had been dug earlier and the coffin was opened one last time before it was buried. The baby was in a soft, blue blanket, and he looked like he was asleep. He had dark, black hair and long eyelashes. It was hard, knowing that his life had been so short.
Finally, the coffin was placed in the ground. The Bugleri Indian’s tradition is to dig a small tunnel at the bottom of the hole where the coffin is placed. Then, that tunnel is sealed off with rocks. Finally, the hole is filled in with dirt. It was very important to the parents to bury the coffin this way so the weight of the dirt would not “rest on the baby’s chest.” What I also found interesting is that in the parent’s culture no one was to leave until the hole was filled up. Before we left, I gave the baby’s brother a hug. His name is Demesio and he is a friend of mine. It was hard for me to know that he wouldn’t get to see his baby brother again until he goes to Heaven. For the rest of the day, I mourned for my friend Demesio.
Thanks for reading this blog. If you think of them, please pray for the Indigenous family who lost their baby.
This is Isaac, signing off with a heavy heart.