A little cold, a lot of perspective

I came back from Guatemala with a cold. A sore throat, stuffy nose, cough, congestion, headache, slight fever, and a general sense of icky.

I met a lady in Guatemala. She had a cold too. Or more likely, an infection. Maybe bronchitis. Maybe worse.

I nursed my cold in the comfort of my air conditioned home. I lay in my bed, with clean sheets, and blew my nose on soft clean tissues. Every four hours, I took medicine. I had a glass of juice on my bedside stand, with a bendy straw. I have to have bendy straws when I’m sick.

But as I lay there, I couldn’t stop thinking of her.

Her house was damp and cold. When our group trooped in to visit, we shook out our umbrellas, the cold rain darkening the cement at our feet. Above our heads, sheets of bright blue plastic sagged under the weight of the water.

I couldn’t tell her age. She could have been 60. She could have been 30. I have no idea. Life had lined her face deeply. Her husband was an alcoholic. She couldn’t care for her family.

And she was sick.

Every few minutes, coughs racked her body. She doubled over from the effort, and would demurely lift the hem of her tattered dress to her mouth. She carefully wiped her face with the rough fabric, apologizing after each agonizing spell.

She can’t afford the doctor. She can’t afford medicine. The damp rainy season will only make her sickness worse, her body weaker.

And I couldn’t stop thinking of her.

I have tissues. She has the hem of her skirt.

I have a bed and clean sheets. She has a scratchy blanket she shares with her daughter.

I have medicine at my fingertips. She wonders where her family’s next meal will come from.

I have comfort. She has desperation.

Father, come soon.

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