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I WILL NEVER GET USED TO TINY WHITE CASKETS

“KNOCK!!! KNOCK!!! KNOCK!!!”

There were two men, one with a gun, knocking on my truck window.

“What are you doing here?!!” It was 2:30 in the morning and Gabe and I had parked our truck in the parking lot of a closed McDonalds in Guatemala City.

“We’re waiting. A baby died today and they’re signing paperwork at the hospital so we can take him back to our village.”

They were McDonalds employees. The one with the gun was a security guard. (All fast-food restaurants have armed guards in Guatemala.)

My brain was cloudy. I couldn’t think straight as they shouted.

“You can’t park here! It’s not safe. How much longer will you be?” They were obviously frustrated.

I must have looked pathetic because in the next breath, they said we could stay. “You should leave as soon as you can.”

We didn’t park at the National Hospital because it’s even more dangerous to park there, especially in the middle of the night.

We got a call to return to the hospital at 3:30am. We picked the parents up and took them to a nearby funeral home.

It was still dark when they finally walked out. We gently set the tiny white casket into the back of the truck. I hugged mom and dad and said, “Let’s take him home.”

They didn’t cry. I don’t think there were any tears left. It was the end of a long night.

As we got closer to El Rosario chicken buses were honking as they filled with passengers. The sun was sneaking over the mountain and people were starting to run around. Everyone seemed to have somewhere to go.

I’ll never forget parking that morning. Gabe jumped out of the truck and opened the door for grieving parents. He climbed into the bed of the truck and asked the dad if he needed help carrying the casket?

He’s a gentle man. He whispered, “I can do it.” Gabe set the casket on his left shoulder, and he and his wife began their walk up the path to their home.

I sat and watched them disappear. I can’t imagine the grief they felt. It looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

I will never get used to tiny white caskets.

“Break my heart Lord. Don’t let me get comfortable. Don’t let me be numb to broken hearts.”

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