We had been gone from Brasilito for about three weeks. Our friends Michael and EJ are spending December in the United States, and they have generously given us free use of their car and condo. We stayed there for about ten days, enjoying the air conditioning, hot water, North American-style washer and dryer, comfortable couches, swimming pool, the amazing ocean views, and the peace and quiet. Then for another ten days we enjoyed a wonderful vacation with Rachel’s parents. We arrived back in this area Wednesday evening. I fumigated our house for scorpions, and then we stayed the night in our friends’ condo. Although we have enjoyed the comfort and amenities there, we have felt like it is time for us to return to Brasilito. Our little house here feels like home. It’s not luxurious, but it is where God has placed us for now and we’ve missed our connections in the community.
We decided that I would come over to our house in the morning to give it a thorough cleaning before moving back in. I was wrapping up cleaning and was about to leave to return the rental van when I heard Comanche’s jovial voice saying “Hola!” from the porch. He came in and gave me his customary bear hug, lifting both of my feet at least six inches off the ground. I reciprocated by doing my best to lift him, with lots of grunts and groans, making him bust up laughing. He asked about Rachel and the kids, and we chatted for a few minutes about how the doctors had declared Madison healthy, how he was going to make us arroz con leche, and how his next-door neighbor had just died suddenly and been buried within two days. He said that he was going to a job and had seen our door open and wanted to stop by to say hi because he missed us. He gave me a hug and laughed, saying that I had turned sideways because I didn’t want to get hurt by his bear hug and that he was going to squeeze me taller. I said, “Nos vemos!,” (See you later!), and, laughing, he walked out of our gate to a job where he would fall out of tree, break his neck, puncture a lung, and die thirty minutes later, leaving his family, this community, and us in a state of grief.
Comanche was a man who was larger than life. His size and his serious face scared me when I first met him, but he had one of the biggest hearts that I have ever known. He always seemed to be going somewhere, riding around on his bicycle like a bear on a bike, often with his grown daughter on the bike too, taking her to work He seemed to know everyone in Brasilito and the surrounding towns. And when I would go with him to a store, he seemed to think that everyone was his best friend. When we would arrange for the delivery of supplies, he would say, “Deliver it to the house of Comanche. All the world knows the house of Comanche.” He would visit us often and would greet us and our kids with hugs and kisses, telling Jacob and Charlotte how handsome and beautiful they were. He would always tell me that I was his brother in Christ and that he cared sincerely for me and for my family.
And now he’s gone. I don’t know what we’re going to do here for four more months without Comanche around. I don’t know how his family is going to survive without him to be their rock and breadwinner. And I don’t know what the community is going to do without his humor and his kind heart to make it a better place. There are so many things I don’t understand about the way that God works and why He allows some things to happen while intervening in other things. But I am so thankful that I got to see him before he died. That was a gift.
The last words I said to Comanche were, “I’ll see you later.” I’m looking forward to that day when we’ll see each other again, when the old order of things will pass away and when there will be no more death or morning or crying or pain, but in the meantime our hearts are broken. Please pray for us, for Comanche’s family, and for our community.