But not just any man. An elderly man, a former high school teacher…and a former patient of mine from a charity clinic where I used to work.
It happened as I was driving through downtown, stopped at a light beneath an overpass. Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice.
Since we were both hungry, we did the natural thing: we went for lunch at a nearby cafe. Despite intrigued glances from others, we had a lovely lunch. Looking back, it may have been one of the most enjoyable lunches I’ve ever had.
A few days later, I was contacted by the clinic who informed me that I had received a letter from a patient. And here I will share it with you—in a form put into verse by me but which maintains its original wording:
Dear doc, you have been so kind to me. Why, you even took me to lunch. I wish I could give you something in return, but I know I don’t have much.
So I write these simple words to you in hope that on those days that they’ll make you smile and give you strength and peace in many ways.
You are a doctor to many, but an angel you have been to me, who encouraged, cared, and healed my pain, and a light you made me see.
I am sad that you are no longer my doc but am glad that you are my friend. And I hope we can keep in touch until the very end.
So why did I share this? Because I was “challenged” by Liz to give a gift to someone. But now I realize—I don’t think I succeeded in giving anything to anyone.
One of our littler and bravest guests, I first met Mayra when she was admitted to the hospital with cerebral malaria (a severe form affecting the brain) a month prior. Few thought she was going to make it, but as one can see here…she absolutely did.
From scared little girl to fearless survivor, she quickly became an inspiration to those caring for her. Bonding over children’s songs and Dum Dums (green apple was her favorite), our friendship grew, and she quickly became a ray of light in my day.
Here, she is pictured at one of her follow-up appointments with—what else— —but a green apple Dum Dum.
Meet the Aguado household. A place where love runs deep…simple are the joys…and wide are the smiles that shield the scars aching to heal beneath.
Here we see one of the effects of inaccessible health care. Where fathers lose their lives to otherwise treatable diseases, leaving two mothers and seven children with little more than the lingering fragrance of memories.
Here we also see a strength undeniable. Where the youngest to the eldest come together to care for one another…encourage one another…support one another.
And finally, we see ‘little Juan,’ whose palpable nonchalance tells you really all that you need to know:
Founded in 2013 by Phoebe Chi, MD, PhoebeMD: Medicine + Poetry is a health information and literary arts website that aims to inspire, empower, and inform through a curated mix of essential health information, uplifting stories, and original poetry.