After an extended stay in a local children’s hospital, our darling, Nong Fon, has returned to Mercy. Her best friend at Mercy, Nong Peh, is overjoyed.
For those who don’t know them, Nong Peh and Nong Fon are blind, disabled girls who have continuous life-threatening health issues. They are also exceptionally kind and loving.
Nong Fon and Peh sleep, wake up, dine, nap, play, laugh, and cry together, and often communicate in made-up words in a their own private language.
When they are not conversing, they hold hands.
For the past year, doctors have been trying to control Nong Fon’s seizures, and in the process she’s been taken to and from a local children’s hospital many times. The nurses adore her. They say she’s an angel. So we know she’s is well taken care of when away from Mercy. (Maybe she’s the one who is taking care of her nurses.) But it’s sad for us when she’s not here at Mercy. And Nong Peh misses her terribly.
So you can imagine the anticipation Nong Peh felt when she heard that, after almost two months away, Nong Fon would be returning to Mercy in just a few days.
Life should always be so sweet!
It isn’t and wasn’t, at least not on the appointed day of Nong Fon’s return. On the very afternoon that Nong Fon came back to Mercy, Nong Peh came down with an infection that needed immediate attention in a hospital. They missed each other by a few hours, and their reunion would have to wait.
In the meantime, a Mercy girl named Lin was asked to help look after Nong Fon.
Fr. Joe has written about Nong Peh and Nong Fon and Lin in some of his previous stories for the Bangkok Post, as here.
Lin is the definitive “throw-away” kid. Mentally disabled and facially disfigured, she had been abandoned to the street and lived as a throw-away child for many years – just how many years or how she survived with poor mental acuity, Lin can’t or won’t tell us. All we know for sure is that she has suffered indignities far beyond our comprehension. To this day, she prefers to spend most of her waking hours alone, huddled in a back corner of our Mercy Centre, as far away as possible from any strangers who might tease or bother her. Not that anyone would tease her, but she dreads even the possibility that someone might look at her askance.
On her first day at Mercy, we introduced Lin to Nong Peh and Nong Fon and told her, these are your little sisters, and from now on it will be your job to help us take care of them.
Lin’s attachment to Nong Peh and Nong Fon was transformative. Nobody on the streets had ever been genuinely nice to Lin; nobody had ever wanted to be with her. She had no purpose, no friends, nobody who cared about her. All of a sudden Lin had two little sisters who needed her, and would love her and never, ever hurt her.
Her relationship with Nong Peh and Nong Fon is like a gorgeous sunset before harvest when nature is brimming with life, the forests are bursting with foliage, the flowers are beaming with beauty. Everything is radiant. Lin, Nong Fon and Nong Peh have the perfect I-Thou relationship: they embrace each other in the present with their whole beings! No questions. No judgments. Just continuous bursts of spontaneous love.
But we digress: Nong Peh went to the hospital before Nong Fon returned home. And for the greater part of this past week Lin looked after her little sister as if life itself – never mind her own deficits and disfigurements – is a wonderful gift. (Photo of Lin and Nong Fon below.)
Yesterday, Nong Peh returned home and was finally reunited with Nong Fon. Months apart, they still never missed a beat, telling each other secrets in their own private language, laughing at each other's jokes, and holding hands as if their last conversation together was only yesterday.
They’re good for the moment. And if and when they need a little help, their big sister Lin is always ready to jump in.
After months apart, Nong Fon and Nong Peh are back together, holding hands.