I have to confess sometimes I think it would just be easier if all there were after death were nothingness, oblivion, the end. I find it hard to imagine heaven, what it might be like, if I would really want to live there forever and ever.
But I do believe there must be something more, because of patients like Maria.
Maria had AIDS. She was a young Mum of 3 small children. Her husband cared for her dearly and visited her regularly. She was in the local hospital for months being treated for tuberculosis, during which time she developed pressure sores. She was emaciated.
She came to Orphaids to be cared for and arrived in a very weak state. Gradually we healed up the ulcers and as she ate nourishing food she began to put on weight. But she still was not on antiretroviral treatment for the AIDS.
This treatment is free in Ecuador, but is only available through the government programmes. There is one for those who have social security and one for those who do not. Getting started on the treatment is something of a lottery, depending on the good grace of the physician attending you. At least once a year the drugs run out in one of the programmes, and patients are without treatment for a month or two. Even if the other government programme has the drugs there is no way they will ever share them with patients on the other programme. These patients develop resistance to drugs, contract life threatening infections and some die. Every year.
Maria went to the hospital to ask, again, to be started on the antiretrovirals, and was denied because of rivalries between doctors. I went to see her in Orphaids. Her ulcers were healing nicely, and her cough was much better, but she looked sick. She was vomiting and could not eat. Her husband was bringing her all kinds of remedies, desperate to keep her alive, desperate to keep the mother of his children alive. But it was all in vain. Maria died the next day. Those children were left motherless. No one gave her the life-saving drugs that could have made all the difference for Maria. No one gave her that chance.
These injustices in life are what make me believe there must be some ultimate redressing of wrongs. I feel so impotent, I long for justice, fairness, for people to simply act with kindness to their fellow human beings. I hope that Maria will be able to spend an eternity with her children, after being denied the chance to live with them these short years on earth.
I cling to the cross, where all injustice was crucified and beaten, from where flows forgiveness and hope. Such great, self-sacrificial love is found there, I stand amazed. I need to gaze there longer, renew my vision of what a heaven full of such love could be like. It is there I find the strength to keep on fighting.