Friday, January 01, 2010

We brought things

that my friends would have wanted.

Things like malaria tablets and high powered insect repellent and cipro for diarrhea.

She can't see you today. She is sick with malaria.

I felt overwhelmed by the fact that I, there for only two weeks, had enough malaria medication to get me safely through my time in Africa, but my Malian friends had no such thing.

I can't get a years worth of malaria tablets for even a single person, never mind the whole extended community of family and friends.

So next time I go back, it will be the same. I will take my medicine each morning

and rely on God to keep my friends healthy.


John Michael Keba said...

I am always struck, when I read the journals and memoirs of Friends written up to, say, the end of the 19th century, how commonplace death was in life. Grief and joy went hand in hand.

Now, no one seems willing to die at all (which is a different thing altogether from not wanting to die), and and I rarely experience joy for a life lived when someone I know dies; mostly anger, and often untoward sadness.

Rachel Nguyen said...


I wish you would say more about this. Why the anger? The sadness, I understand, of course.

When my friend Maze died, I didn't feel anger at all. But I did feel hugely grateful for having met him. To me, that was one of God's great gifts in my life. I felt very sad for his family, too, of course.

John Michael Keba said...

First, I need to say that "gratitude" for the life is how I always try to approach it, and that tempers the natural sense of sadness.

What I was referring to was the anger I far too often see in people who feel cheated somehow out of all the years they feel medical science has guaranteed them. You do not run into this attitude?

I think too I am struggling with someone I have been praying for at the bequest of a friend. I do not know the women personally; she certainly seems like a good person, courageous in the face of her cancer, and with two lovely children. Yet, I wonder how many millions of dollars of healthcare more she will go through, either to live or to die. I have known others who have refused further treatment beyond palliation, and surprisingly that decision seemed to benefit their young children. They had good deaths.

I guess I am trying to say that Americans are far too afraid of death, and consequently miss out on a lot of life. Does that make sense?

Rachel Nguyen said...

Yes, I understand what you are saying.

I haven't really run into people who have felt like they were owed something... but I have certainly been involved with people who were willing to try anything in order to live. Usually it involved not wanting to leave loved ones in bad situations. In the end, though, God is in the midst of all of it, and if you recognize that fact, the whole thing seems more peaceful.

John Michael Keba said...

You know I used to be a hospice volunteer, and I can tell you God's presence was strong in those situations. That is what I do not see in "the willingness to try anything in order to live." There is an "at all costs" aspect that I see that has little use for God.

I am struggling with this, obviously. I will answer you email later today.