Jesus (in the back-ground) and Blanca two weeks ago.
Today we received a phone call from a family in Rio los Bueyes. We always visit this family when we go down there for their annual Celebration of the Martyrs. In fact, we were there just a couple of weeks ago. (See Alisha’s blog – link to the right!).
We knew that Jesus, the mother/grandmother has cancer. She has had good days and bad. When we visited a couple of weeks ago, I could see she was weak and she only stayed out on the patio with us about 20 minutes. She then had retired to her room to lie down.
So the phone call today was from her daughter Eulalia. Mom is doing very badly she said. She is not sleeping, she is not able to eat or drink and she is vomiting blood. (Sorry for the graphic image). And she was asking for ‘those from the Pastoral House’ –
We decided we needed to go see her. It is what the Pastoral Team does. They visit the sick and try to give comfort.
Normally it is over an hour’s drive to Rio los Bueyes but we learned of a shortcut and now it only takes about 55 minutes.
When we got there, she was in bed so we went in to sit with her. She recognized and acknowledged us and spoke briefly. Blanca asked about her pain. She said ‘not too much, but I am nauseous and I can hardly sleep.’
She is so thin. Her stomach is quite bloated though. She is weak and even as we were there, she was groaning the soft groans of nausea. And several times she had to spit into a rag, or TP. And indeed, she was spitting blood.
She was very hot. It is very hot in the valleys and her room is cinderblock with one window. For some reason, the door was shut – but Cecilia propped it open for air flow. Of which there was very little.
Eulalia was using a large folded towel to fan her mother. Resting her arms every so often.
We talked for a while. I myself was praying for peace and comfort for all of them and freedom from pain and nausea for Jesús. At this point, the only freedom will come from death.
We only stayed about a half hour. Before we left, Eulalia had one of the children climb a tree and fetch some oranges for us to take back to Berlin. Even in grief and suffering, people are compelled to share!
All the way back to Berlin I could not stop thinking of her. And about how Jesús is being loved by her family – especially her daughter. I was thinking about how hard it must be for the family (they live in a multi family compound so there are lots of children that also need tending).
Death is a fact of life here – I know that – I have grieved with many families in my short time here. Suffering is a fact of life here.
Pain is a fact of life here.
People suffer but they take it in stride. I’m not saying people are ‘content’ with their lot in life – but death, suffering and pain do not necessarily incapacitate people.
There are NO resources to help this family. No hospice care. No hospital that they could afford to take her to help her manage the pain and nausea.
They have each other. And they love each other. And they do what they can to soothe the suffering.
God bless these folks. And all people suffering illness and those who care for them – resources or no.