26 Years Later

It’s hard to believe I am the boy in the first picture, but it’s even harder to believe I am the man in the second picture.

The first picture is from 1997, when I was dying in Ghana from malaria at 9 years old. I remember the day my uncle took that photo at the hospital. I remember how fatiguing it was to get out of the hospital bed for the first time in weeks. I remember how grateful I was to see a familiar face knowing I was dying next to strangers.

I was so weak, I could barely stand or walk on my own. Though I was just skin and bones, I was actually starting to recover when this picture was taken. By that time , I had started eating for the first time since I was rushed to the hospital. So I was actually even thinner and weaker days before.

I didn’t think I would leave the hospital on my feet. Since we were poor and we couldn’t afford any better, I shared a room with several boys. I saw many sick boys carried into the room only to have their lifeless bodies carried out later. I remember the day the boy next to me stopped moving, and I wondered if I would die without seeing my mom again. 

My mom had immigrated to Canada 3 years prior in 1994. Immigration laws back then made it impossible for us to immigrate to Canada at the same time. The only way I could immigrate to Canada was if my mom came into the country on her own and sponsored me. So to secure a better future for me, she made the difficult decision to temporarily leave me in Ghana.  

However, in the middle of the immigration process 3 years later, it looked like I didn’t have a future and my body would stay in Ghana. And worse, after paying for my immigration and hospital bills, my mom was too poor to buy a plane ticket to see me at the hospital.

So I was dying at the hospital without a father and without my mom.

That seemed like a fitting end. My father abandoned my mom when she was pregnant with me. I’ve never met him. So being the son of an absentee father and a poor, single mother in Ghana—people made it known to me they didn’t expect much from my life.

To be honest, I didn’t expect much from my life either. I didn’t think I would leave the hospital. I didn’t think I would leave Ghana. And I especially didn’t think I be a husband and a father.

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Soon after my son was born a couple of months ago, she looked at me, smiled and said: “Sammy is a husband and a father. Wow.”

That was my her way of praising God. Despite all of my obstacles (and sins), God has been more gracious to me than I could have ever imagined.

26 years later, the man in the second picture doesn’t look anything like the boy in the first picture. That’s because my life doesn’t look like anything like it did 26 years ago. 

I am Cecilia’s son, Annie’s husband, and Solomon’s father. I’m so grateful. 

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