Benezet was brought in by wheelbarrow. I guess it took awhile.
The Istat is a handheld device that measures electrolytes. It is notoriously finicky- needs to be refrigerated, but not too cold, or it jams up, and then humidity is a problem. Well, today it worked, and his Sodium was 165, about as high as I’ve seen. He looked dead from the get go, and then he was, before we got an IV going, or an NG, or even a first name. Amazingly, my first cholera fatality down here. I wish he gave me a better shot, but it was inevitable.
After the sweaty shift, there’s a mass at 7, and I go, mostly to hear the cacaphony of language. They’ll sing in Latin, English, Kreyol, French and Spanish, and it always begins just as the UN camp across the way- they’re from Bangla Desh- calls muezzin. That’s pretty discordant, and I’m not sure if we infidels can count Arabic.
But there is Benezet on the floor of the chapel, an embroidered shroud over his body bag. There’s a dead lady adjacent. I know her story, but she wasn’t my patient- an OB complication, now looking diminished, a young father tonight trying to cobble something together, his gratitude over the new baby tempered by reality’s grim bite.
Night falls fast nearer the equator, and the chapel is dark, candles guttering in the still stiff wind. There’s a little incense and Benezet’s shroud shudders a good bit in the breeze, the candle at his feet magnifies the movement in swirling shadow.
Rick Freschette, the carpenter pediatrician, wears a white cassock, a priest tonight, the 15th Sunday in Ordinary time, and he sends them off praying for dignity and comfort in their new estate. The six living- we kneel, we all touch them, say a prayer.
He doesn’t dress it up much- this comes up a lot. He mentions the laying aside of life’s burdens, shaking off this mortal coil. It sounds peaceful. The shadows do their part, and Wynn Wylant breaks into a Protestant hymn, set to Beethoven’s 9th triumphal chorus, but he sings it like a plaintive West Virginian mountain crooner. You’d hardly recognize it if you didn’t know it already, and instead of the joyful finale, the tune drifts away, fades down to nothing.
Things are closer to the heart here. You lose them, say a prayer, and bury them that day, but you don’t lose sight of them.
We could be Orthodox Jews.
Simone Galfar made it, Junior too.
They’ll be Benezet’s minion.