Hope Against Time: Ghost Boy

One day Martin Pistorius’ mother turned to her son and said, “I hope you die.”

As a 12-year old boy living in South Africa, his doctors believe Pistorius contracted Cryptococcal Meningitis, which caused him to fall into a vegetative state. Doctors told his parents to take him home so he could die in peace.

Not long into his excruciating ordeal, Martin could hear everything, see everything and feel everything that was going on around him. Yet his body was frozen, a prison. He couldn’t speak or move. And the young man stayed that way. Sure to die.

For 12 years.

Martin’s father, Rodney, would wake him each day, dress him and drive him to the care center at which he would spend his days.  Then at night his mother Joan would feed him, bathe him and put him to bed, turning him every few hours so he wouldn’t get bed sores.

For 12 years.

Finally, one day, in utter frustration and unaware that Martin could hear every word, Joan turned to her son and said, “I hope you die.” They had no evidence that there was any chance that he would recover. The longer it went, the more their hope faded, until it died.

Martin remembers: “Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up, I was aware of everything, just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that – totally alone. You don’t really think about anything,” he said. “You simply exist. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish.”

Then one day, to everyone’s utter amazement, Martin began a full recovery and today, at 39, is married and living a normal life in Harlow, England. He’s written a book called, “Ghost Boy.”

Martin’s is a powerful story of hope because it’s a stark example of how we often allow time to trump faith. We’re willing to hope, to believe against all odds, until too many seconds or calendar pages turn. But in Martin’s case, hope was never lost. It was only perceived by those around him as being gone. If they could have seen the future (as One can), they would have known that, by the hand of God, it was never a matter of whether, but when.

Maybe that’s why that little piece of 1 Corinthians 13:7 reminds us: Love always hopes.


 Read more about Martin.