If you plan to read Finding Chika by Mitch Albom (of Tuesdays with Morrie fame), I strongly suggest you keep a box of tissues nearby. Albom tells of the young child he met at the Have Faith Orphanage in Haiti, which he and his wife run. When Chika is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness no one in Haiti can treat, Albom and his wife, Janine, bring her to America in the hopes of finding a cure.
It is not a spoiler to tell you that their search for a cure is unsuccessful. Albom shares that news on the first page. Indeed, the ghost of Chika is a prominent character in the telling of her story and the ways it changed Albom forever.
Having never had biological children, taking care of Chika thrusts Albom in a role of father he never expected to have. The fact that she is fighting an unfightable disease makes parenting that much more of a challenge.
As writers are prone to doing, writing Finding Chika was a way for Albom to process and reflect on all that happened to him. But within this book's pages are powerful lessons on life and what it means to love a child.
Here are a couple of quotes that especially struck me:
There are many kinds of selfishness in this world, but the most selfish is hoarding time, because none of us know how much we have, and it is an affront to God to assume there will be more.
I could not understand why a child had to suffer . . . This does not mean I lost my belief in God. Nut it was tested. . . .As your condition worsened, my clinging became more desperate. I often got angry at the Lord.Purchase Finding Chika on Amazon (affiliate link)
The reason I didn't walk away altogether, I guess, harkens to something an old rabbi named Albert Lewis once told me. He had lost his four-year-old daughter to an asthma attack in the 1950s.
I asked if even he, a righteous clergyman, didn't get mad with God over that.
"Oh, I was furious," he said.
Then why didn't you stop believing?
"Because," he said, "as terrible as I felt, I took comfort in having something I could cry to, a power to whom I could shout, 'Why?' It is still better than having nothing to turn to at all."