Departure

8 september 2008

It is a hot summer night, the sky is clear and the moonlight is finding it´s way through the shutters of a window. Regardless of the heat, it has been kept closed and it doesn´t seem the AC can keep up. It is humming loudly, drowning any sound of mosquitos that might have made it into the sanitized hostpital room. There´s a net around a bed to be on the safe side. Despite the hospital´s great efforts there´s still a risk one would make it into this room and that would be the end of the patient in bed 27. The man lying in the bed looks no older than thirty, despite how the disease has worn him. He is sleeping now, a worried, feverish sleep, tossing back and forth in his bed. I stand and watch as some equipment come lose causing a couple of machines to start beeping irregularly. Not a minute later two nurses rush in and gives him a shot of what I guess is a sedative and he calms down, his breathing returning to a deep steady rythm. The machines quiet down as the nurses plug everything back and rush out again, leaving me alone with the still unconsious man.

He looks peaceful now, dreaming like a baby. He even looks a bit more healthy with his face not distorted in feverish nightmares. One might think he would be on his feet tomorrow, on the path to recovery, the first day of the rest of his life. I´ve been through this before, so many times, but still it requires all my expertice to determine the outcome. Not if he will live or not, I know he is dying. The nurses know he is dying. The mosquitos know he is dying. How he will die is the question.

As I step into the moonlight the man opens his eyes, as always, as one on the journey he can feel my presence. He turns his head when he sees me through the net and as I walk closer his eyes widen. He does not appear afraid but he focuses intently on me.
“Are you here for me?” he asks and I nod slowly. “Are you the angel?”
I sigh deeply as I recall past mistakes, before I answer.”Yes, I am.” In a way I´m glad they know me. I remember back in the days when people believed in angels and in God. Not only in a spiritual way, but in a concrete, physical way. Times were easier then, at least for me. Now there´s too much explaining needed. The ones who know me don´t need any explanations. “Are you ready to leave?” I ask, even though I´m sure of the answer.
“If it is God´s will,” he answers, surprising me slightly. After all he´s been through, he still would follow in some devine plan. Despite countless years of hardening my soul, I feel for him. A reminder that I am the right one for my task.
“You can wait for another like me to come get you, or you can leave with me.” I clarify, as the choice must be clear to him.
“I know,” he says smiling. “Thank you for hearing my prayers. Thank you for saving me the pain. I will come with you.” He rises from the bed, light as a feather. No ties longer holding him to his dying body. As the machines flatline, I take him into the night. Walking with the sounds of the African wilderness surrounding us, I can feel his peace.

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