Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Life and Death

What if there is a mystical quota for each and every day of how many people should die and how many should live? With life and death on the same continuum, our day in the Patanatic clinic makes a little more sense.

For two and a half days we have cared for the 283 families in this small Mayan community. One of the infants who came to see us was the grandson of a member of the community. Jose Daniel was born just 40 days ago and was one month premature . I will let the other medical professionals describe the nature of his illness but I was privileged to accompany this young infant in his journey to the hospital  of Solola, 40 minutes away.  The last time I made such a trip was three years ago. Thank God that little boy received quality care and his life has continued.

It was an eerie feeling to drive through the same gates and to enter the hospital knowing the doorways that would lead us right into the Emergency Room sans paperwork. Nurse Ibemere debriefed instantly on the severity of Jose Daniel's state and the hospital immediately began oxygen treatment and made plans for his admission and care. We left the baby with its mother and grandmother by his side. It was not an easy parting but we had done everything we could to save this baby's life.

As our van began the descent back to Lake Atitlan and the clinic's locale we were suddenly stopped along the winding two lane road. The road hangs perilously along a mountain cliff and there are often accidents, tragic ones. Were we again to witness the thin line between life and death? As we inched forward a police officer came up to our driver to explain the cause of the massive traffic jam - it was a funeral. In Guatemalan custom the coffin was being carried by hand up the mountain road. Trucks full of villagers, children, loudspeakers and flowers led the path for eight men carrying the adult coffin on their shoulders. "Dear God," I prayed, "let this be the older person one who in their passing has allowed our young Jose Daniel to have a chance at life."

As Ecclesiastes so elegantly wrote:
There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
     a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to rejoice.

Rabbi Abie Ingber

No comments: