From Honduras: A Goodbye to Karen
Sister Patricia Dowling shares a story from Honduras:
In Honduras, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty is very high. And in this group there are many mentally challenged persons living with their families. These are the people I visit in and around the town of Choluteca where we live in a l'Arche community.
During this year, Karen, a good friend whom I visited frequently, became very ill. Karen, seen in an earlier picture at left, had been paralyzed since birth. Although she needed much care, her contribution to her family, friends and neighbours was her beautiful smile, her sparkling eyes, and her friendship.
She often was ill and her mother, Blanca, would look for help to pay a taxi, and carrying her out to the road, would go into town to a doctor – which meant the hospital for the poor. And she would beg for money to buy the prescriptions.
But this last illness took Karen away. The mother assisted her in the hospital many different times during the last two months when she never lost hope. Since Karen's lungs were the greatest problem, she could not lie down, so the mother held her sitting up day and night for these months, coaxing her to eat or drink a little. But Karen's life was slipping away. The mother then took her all the way into the hospital in the capital city, but was not able to save her beloved daughter. Weeks later in floods of tears we brought her home to Choluteca for an all- night wake and to bury her in the town cemetery where her mother would go daily for months.
I still feel deeply that my relationship with Karen has not ended: something has gone from me to her. I know we are close. She really fulfilled her mission during her 29 years on earth for she had touched many, many hearts and also brought out the best in her sister and mother.
There are so many others who daily are experiencing similar difficulties and never seem to lose hope. Nor do they condemn those who cause so much suffering leaving them without access to good hospitals, transportation, medicine, healthy food and clean water. This we know is the reality and we all see it daily, yet there is so very much to learn from the poor, the weak and the fragile in our midst.
By Patricia Dowling CSJ