Meet little Mialy, Mia, and their father…known simply as Baba. They—along with 15 other siblings—made up my host family during a time spent in the arid region of southern Madagascar, where I was doing research on the Antandroy communities.
I often think back to this family with bittersweet fondness. When I was there, I was profoundly inspired by their love for life and their appreciation of the simple joys it brings…while endlessly cheered by their wide grins and generous laughter.
But now, when I glance at this photo, their visage seems to reveal a truth much deeper…and my heart aches a little.
Nevertheless, the sound of their laughter will remain with me forever, and I am thankful to have met them…and grateful for the lessons they taught me in treasuring the simple moments in life.
Continue reading “Simple Moments.”
Dedicated to all whose compassion serves as a light in this world…
like a vessel of alabaster
rent for its salve
she is an ointment
upon bleeding souls
and wounded flesh
a river of compassion
forged with an oath
fueled by a vision
those hands of clay
guided by light
with a wisdom
paid with a price.
is this touch that
saves and soothes
comforts and mends
by the pulse of
a heart constrained
by its own calling
the candle within
softened by flame
its waxen tributary
a remembrance to
the joys and sorrows
gains and losses
in the care for mankind.
Continue reading “Healer”
How do I know
the pill won’t seem
bitter to your tongue
through your teeth?
How do I wear
a once white coat
stained with tears
How do I compel
my pen to write
scripts to fight
a dimming light?
How do I know
which waters will flow
to unearth the strength
How do I persuade
a heart to let go
when it’s my hand
that sets you free?
How do I ensure
my smile won’t be
one of the last
that you’ll see?
How do I force
my ears to hear
a song I fear
of dusk so near?
How do I know
which waters will come
to enshroud the doubts
Once when I was on a specialized heart failure service, I took care of a teenage boy. He had a form of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (a weak, enlarged heart), and he had a huge heart…in more ways than one.
He loved baseball, pumpkin pie, and horses. His family owned a farm, so before he got sick, he would often go horseback riding. He also loved to draw.
We—a team of five physicians—took care of him for a month while he was waiting for a heart transplant. He liked us. We liked him. So he drew us as well.
I thought he was clever. But he thought I was even more so. All because he liked my joke:
“What do you call a cow with no legs?”
That was it. He was just a great kid, trying his best to live the life given to him.
It used to be, that at the end of our visits, we would both say to each other, “Ground beef!” with a wink and a huge smile. It perplexed the other physicians, but we knew exactly what we were talking about.
It was just a silly joke. But for the two of us, it somehow meant something more.
I found out recently that he passed away. And today I found the drawing he gave me. And I wept.
So here’s to you, dear buddy…
Ground beef 😉
• Mahantantely, Madagascar •
Through my time spent abroad during the holiday seasons, I noticed something:
That despite our dissimilar lives, cultures, appearances, beliefs…
one thing never changes:
our love and compassion for one another.
• Takoradi, Ghana •
Wishing everyone much love this December.
• Monteagudo, Bolivia •
Meet little Luis– otherwise known as my partner in crime. He was a regular visitor to the hospital, as his father had tuberculosis and was undergoing a long course of treatment.
Continue reading “Little Luis.”
I had lunch with a homeless man.
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.
Rather, the gift was given to me.