Definition: corny; lacking in freshness or effectiveness because of constant use or excessive repetition
expressed too often to be interesting or seem sincere
OK….I imagine if you’re reading this, then you are either:
a. Wondering if we’re still alive after an earthquake that devastated thousands of lives but one that we barely felt
b. A family member of someone in our group
c. Someone who is desperately hoping that this will not be one more TRITE BLOG intended to guilt out the world as we approach Thanksgiving.
It’s 3AM and though I’ve been “dormiendo como un bebé” (yes, they say “sleeping like a baby” even here in Guatemala) all month, I’m not tonight. You know how your eyes just pop open and as you pray that the morning light is about to shine, you see 2AM on the clock? And you know it’s not just a brief lapse in REM sleep. It’s a full blown “I can’t get that thought out of my head so I might as well just turn on the light and do something worthy of being awake at 2AM"!!!
So here I am writing this “blog”. OK….my first plea to myself was to PLEASE not sound trite……especially as we are coming up on Thanksgiving when we are bombarded with the tritest of trites. Anne, above all, do not start in on the “Be Thankful” litany. Please don’t start reminding yourself and everyone else that we all have too much, we are never grateful enough, the key to happiness is gratefulness, lack of gratefulness results in depression and lack of meaning in life and lack of giving yourself leads to all kinds of death and decay!!!!!
Of course, what hits me first is the utterly disgusting overuse of the word “blog”. Really….how can you not be trite if you’re writing in a “blog”? By it’s very nature, the word implies the ultimate “lack of freshness”. I’ve been struggling the last couple of weeks to write anything in here that sounds new, not completely overused and might even be worth staying awake for at 3AM. My usual litany of ranting against oppression and injustice seems even too much for me right now.
So…..what’s keeping me awake?…….a little girl named Genesis.
Because “we can’t be all things to all people”, I try hard in our little clinic to treat patients in the same way I treat them at home. That means limiting the patients to what I am trained to do and for me, that means no men and no children!! So I’m not sure why I broke my own rule and said “yes” when Orfe asked if a little girl could come in. All she told me (in Spanish of course) was that the girl had a condition called “Crystal Bones”. Hmmmm???? Crystal Bones? That sounds intriguing.
Here’s where the story gets very “Guatemalish”. I say yes…..Orfe calls the mom…..the mom calls a “tuk-tuk”…..the mom and the girl with Crystal Bones arrive in about 10 minutes.
So mom, me and the girl with Crystal Bones sit and chat. At first, mom seems fairly angry. Her brows are tight, she is rapidly speaking in Spanish and then she pulls out photos of her and some Gringa (American woman) and then a “Christian” book about finding God in Quadriplegics. At this point, I feel like I’m reading some Sherlock Holmes novel where you’re given all the clues at the beginning and if you’re really smart, you can figure who killed who.
And so, the story unfolds……the story that is keeping me up at 3AM and the story which is intended to NOT sound trite and only intended to share a little inspiration about “what it’s all about”.
“Genesis” is 6 years old and weighs 20 pounds. She was named after her disease. She had a normal birth but by 6 months old, she just wouldn’t grow and began breaking all her bones. Now at this point in the U.S., you would either be in jail for child abuse or you would have already been to the likes of Cleveland Clinic to find out that your child has a rare condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. There are varying degrees of severity of this problem but we’ll just talk about “Genesis” for now. They say she has “crystal bones” because her little body is pretty much like Waterford Crystal – you will fall in love with her within minutes because of the haunting, tranquil enormous eyes that fill most of her little face but if you touch her too roughly, she will break. Her little body is full of broken bones that are indeed painful – painful for me to look at. For 6 years, she has basically been carried and caressed by a mother whose missions it seems is to do nothing but love this little treasure. And what does love mean? Just watch this mother. Watch her frantically tell me the same story she has told over and over – desperately hoping that I won’t be one more “gawker” who listens politely and moves on. Watch her change the little girl’s clothes as if she was indeed washing precious crystal. Watch her literally cry after we gave her a few little items we thought would help. Watch the response of the little girl as she sits on her mom’s lap. I wondered if I had it in me to ever love that deeply, that selflessly…..
“Mira…” the mom says. Mira means “Look”. It is a word they use a lot here when they want to cut to the chase and get your attention. You can be sure this mom is tired of telling the story over and over and over. “Mira……she has Osteogenesis Imperfecta……she keeps breaking her bones……I’ve brought her everywhere…..I get no answers. But as if that didn’t get my attention enough, she then hits me with the story of the “Gringa Woman”. “Mira”! I have evidence!
So as she shows me photos of her in some fairly fancy Conference Room with some smiling American who looks about my age, I wonder what crime the evidence points to? The Gringa woman looks like a lot of Americans down here – an image I dread. An image I fight not to look like. An image of a “do-gooder” whom you suspect is there for a photo-op and an opportunity to have a feel-good week. The mom raises her voice and then shows me the book that this woman has written – a book filled with bible verses and a message of finding God in little suffering children. Then she tells me that this woman promised to help her get the money for an intravenous drug that might help the fractures – a drug which costs $1000 a month. But guess what? After the photo-op, the woman never called back. And here is the evidence. Here are the pictures! Now where is the money????
Hmmmmm…………..so, what was I to do now? At all costs, I did not want to be another Gringa woman!! So I frantically made some promises that I thought I could keep while I struggled to buy some time. Our Pediatrician could see them next month. I could talk to a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. We could get them an oral medication that might help. I printed out some helpful information in Spanish. We found some items that might make life a little easier (a school desk and a wheelchair) and of course, some Children’s books. At some point, the mom just started sobbing. Sobbing and sobbing. I didn’t need her to tell me why. I could read it in her eyes…..”I’m tired. Tired of watching my baby suffer. Tired of telling the same story and getting no answers. Tired of poverty. Tired of hoping against hope. Tired of people who act concerned but are long gone. “
Then the mom suddenly smiles when I asked her how Genesis does in school. Her eyes brighten up as she tells me that this little 20 pounder is number 1 in her class. She says “Genesis, show the doctor what you know. Recite a little prayer for her. Sing her a song.”
So attached is little Genesis’ Thanksgiving gift for you all. I’ve only known her for a few minutes but it was enough to keep me awake tonight. Her little body and little life and the unconditional, passionate love that her mom and her show is really what it’s all about, isn’t it. I guess you just take whatever situation you’re in and whatever trials you face and you keep fighting, you keep looking for hope, you keep getting angry when people fail you and ultimately, you look to find God in whatever way He shows himself to you. I hope I won’t be just some Gringa woman for her.