A Sad Face

One of my favorite bands, The Choir, did a song many years ago called “Sad Face”:

“A sad face is good for the heart

Go on cry, does it seem a cruel world?

A sad face is good for the heart of a girl

A sad face…”

Today, it does feel like a cruel world. Several of the kids in Pearl’s orphanage are hospitalized with a wicked combination of malaria and measles. The pastor of the orphanage is having to stay with them around the clock. Unlike here in America, there’s maybe one or two nurses for a whole Ugandan hospital. All of the primary care, food and water provision, cleaning, everything, has to be given by a family member, who usually sleeps on the concrete floor on a blanket beside the patient’s bed. And this poor man is tending to four patients all by himself.

I think of how pathetically ungrateful I am, grumbling and complaining about a head cold and waiting for 30 minutes to see a doctor, or when I’ve been in the hospital, griping that the chicken tastes bland and the nurse woke me up to take my blood pressure.

That’s why today’s sad face is good for the heart of this girl, me. Because it sure puts things into perspective. It hurts like hell — pardon my French– but sometimes that’s exactly what we need. Painful reality checks.

Right after I heard from the orphanage’s pastor about these poor sick kids, I received an email containing Pearl’s father’s death certificate.

Finally, we have raised enough money to process her I-600 through immigration! This was the last piece of paper we needed before sending off that package.

But reading it was so sad. I didn’t know him, yet as my daughter’s father, it felt like reading a relative’s death certificate. He was older than I imagined him being –just a year younger than my own father– and he died from complications of diabetes and high blood pressure.

I wish I could’ve seen a picture of him. I wish there was somewhere, a photo of Pearl with her father, but I know there’s not likely to be one.

I hurt tonight because of the unfairness of it all. He and my dad are practically the same age, yet here I am, in my 40’s and I still have my father. Pearl lost hers at the age of 7. I think of the gap, the year-plus gap between his death and the time that her mother relinquished her to the orphanage, and wonder what that year must have been like for them. I see how badly the pastor struggles at the orphanage now, and I wonder, how bad did life have to get for Pearl’s mother, that she saw an orphanage as something better for her children?

It’s hard to wrap my mind around that level of pain and loss.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement over adding a new child to the family. But then there are these “reality check” days when I’m reminded again that we’re bringing home a child who has experienced profound loss, whose heart has been broken, whose family has been scattered. A child who knows what it’s like to be sick and alone, with no mother’s hand to wipe her brow or arms to cuddle her close. A girl who bubbles over with excitement over coming here and starting a new life with us, but who, at some point after the “honeymoon” is over, will surely have to work through it being yet another loss of everything familiar and dear.

I don’t want her to have to hurt anymore.

It’s hard, isn’t it, when pain is inevitable? She remains an orphan, she hurts. She comes here, she hurts. There aren’t any pain-free options for this precious girl, and that saddens and angers me all at once, that life should have to be so hard for someone so young.

For SO many someones, these millions of orphans, all so young….

“A sad face is good for the heart

Maybe just now I don’t understand

A sad face is good for the heart of a man

A sad face…”


Categorized as Blog


  1. You (the family) are not only giving her better todays, but also many better tomorrows. Because of your commitment, she will have an oportunity to go to college and to make a difference in her generation. Because of her foundation, her history, she is aware of need and will see and I am sure, facilitate solutions. What you are doing, extends far beyond saving one precious child. What she will do, is what dreams are made of.