Martha, a twelve year old orphan, smiled as another gust of wind blew through her auburn hair. She and her friend Rachelle were running across the filthy street, Rachelle in the lead. Martha, with an ever present smile on her face, was trying to catch up. Normally, it wasn’t this hard, but this time, she felt more drained, then her breaths began coming in short gasps.
Rachelle looked back a moment. “Pick up the pace, Martha! You’re falling behind!” She looked back again, slowing down a little, “Martha? You alright?”
Martha slowed to a staggering walk as she struggled to catch her breath.
“You’d better not be fooling around!” Rachelle said threateningly.
The last thing Martha heard was Rachelle screaming her name as she collapsed.
Light overwhelmed Martha for a moment as she opened her eyes. Martha couldn’t remember anything for a moment, but it slowly came back to her. She heard voices on the other side of the room. She recognized the voice of the orphanage headmaster, Mrs. Saunders. The other voice was unfamiliar but she recognized the sights and sounds of a hospital so assumed he was the doctor.
“…I’ve finished examining her,” the doctor was saying, “and I think she has a hole in her heart.”
“What? A hole?”
“It’s allowing the oxygen-rich blood to mix with the blood without oxygen on its way to the lungs. Her heart has to work extra hard because the blood keeps going back to the lungs before making its way through the body. It’s called Ventricular Septal Defect, or VSD.”
“Can that be treated?”
“Yes, but I don’t have the proper equipment here. Martha will need to be sent to another hospital, one with doctors who specialize with this sort of thing.”
“How long will it take get an appointment?”
“Generally around six months.”
“…Does she have that long?”
“So long as she is careful to eat enough to sustain her body’s high energy demands, and is kept inactive. But the hole is one of the bigger ones I’ve seen, and with the air being as polluted as it is, I really can’t say if she will be alright or not.”
The months passed by, but none of the hospitals had an available appointment for Martha. She was unable to go outside and play, and had to stay inside from dawn to dusk. Martha wished she could play with her friends, but she never complained. She was as joyful as she’d ever been before and would always bring a smile to everyone’s face.
After the third month she started to feel weaker than before. She started spending more time staring thoughtfully out her window, and sometimes would write things down in her journal. As two more months passed she became too weak to even get out of bed, but still she remained a joy to the other children’s lives. Even the teachers enjoyed her company, though they started to worry even more about Martha’s health. But there was nothing they could do except wait and hope the doctors could get to her name on the waiting list soon and fix her heart.
Their hopes were in vain. After eight months the doctors finally got to Martha’s name on their list… But she’d died three weeks before.
Her death saddened the residences of the orphanage. Everyone in the building had loved her cheerful smiles. As the children and teachers went through Martha’s belongings they found her journal. She’d written beautiful poems and many thoughts she’d had during those last months of her life. The last thing she wrote was:
“It seems like life is but fog; a clouded view of reality that is soon carried away by the wind. I look forward to being able to see clearly, with the fog no longer skewing my view. I look forward also to meeting my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can’t wait to talk with Amy Carmichael and the apostle Paul. I bet I’ll even see George Washington! I can only imagine how many other siblings I shall have—ones who are not famous but were courageous just the same. The thing I look forward to the most, though, is being able to see my Father’s face. I shall no longer be an orphan when He finally takes me home.
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