Burying Friends - Part One

I met Carla on a hot La Mosquitia afternoon.   

Her brother, Darwin, works with Alex.  He shared with me about his sick sister and desperately wanted me to visit her, just be her friend.  

At that point, Carla was just a name without a face.  She was a story of heartache, not unlike the ones we hear about all day.   I sighed, unsure, and prayed for God to guide my steps...  Alex and I decided I needed to visit.

A few days later, Darwin and I set out walking a dusty, dirt path between two rows of barbed wire, under coconut trees, passing women sitting on their stoops cleaning rice.

In a tiny, tiny house, I stepped up and entered a kitchen the size of a closet and then took two more steps into a bedroom the size of an outhouse. 

There, lay Carla.

Her clothes were perfectly arranged, a few pictures taped up on her walls, a gentle breeze blowing through the single window above her head.  Her oldest daughter had dropped out of school to help care for her mother.   Carla had 3 daughters and her husband had been killed.

She was 29.   

There was a photo of her when she was healthy... she called herself beautiful and large.   Culturally, large women are considered healthy and blessed here.

On that hot afternoon when we met, I would never have thought the woman in the picture and the woman laying before me were one and the same.

Carla was sick.   At one point, years ago, she was diagnosed with HIV, put on meds and instead of improving, deteriorated.   Tested again, they said she did not have HIV and they took her off of the meds. She improved and began living life again.   Over the course of a few years, something began to happen in her stomach.   The pain was so intense that, at times, she could eat nothing.   She survived on rice water and the occasional bean soup.

The doctors in Puerto Lempira had all but given up on her.  The hospital here has limited resources and very few diagnostic tools.   Often, the sole x-ray machine is out of fluid.    The only remaining option was for Carla to travel to the nearest city for an endoscopy.

The day I met her, we talked extensively about her faith in Christ.   She had lived a difficult life, struggled with the same things we all struggle with.   She accepted Christ when she began to get sick... she hoped for so much more for her girls.  And yet, she was so sick.

In a strange twist of God's Providence, we discovered that Carla had been in the hospital when Cumi was born and knew all about Cumi's mom's struggle.  Carla laid in a hospital bed next to Cumi's mom.   I brought Cumi to visit Carla and she wept over this beautiful baby, knowing the tragedy.   I wept at the unfairness of it all.

Again, Alex and I visited.  Alex and I prayed for Carla, laying hands on our tiny friend and begging the Lord for a miracle.

We asked for prayer for Carla from our friends in the US.   Generous friends of ours helped with travel expenses ... and Carla left Puerto Lempira with the hope that somewhere, someone could figure out what was causing her stomach to rebel against the rest of her body.  It was discovered that she had a mass in her abdomen that the doctors did not believe was cancerous.   She was put on treatment which greatly reduced the mass in size.    She gained weight and returned to Puerto Lempira.

Several months passed.  Her brother would tell me about her improvement, I watched her doing her own shopping, I talked to her on the phone - hope in her voice.

And suddenly, out of nowhere, she was in grave condition again and on death's doorstep.

And, before I knew it, she died.

My heart hurt.   For her girls, for her brother who was her best friend and caretaker, for her mother who would now be raising Carla's girls.    

This is how I found myself crossing the lagoon one bright August morning with 3 of my children in tow... heading to the funeral of a friend....


The Herd said…
so sorry for this loss...it stings sometimes.

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