I’d had such high hopes for this week and the restful possibilities. I was supposed to make yummy good-for-me meals with okra and spinach and kale. They are still sitting in my refrigerator and with luck will not go bad before tomorrow evening. Monday evening we were on the streets when people came by with the news that V- was in the hospital, had given birth to a stillborn seven-month baby girl, and was all alone. R-, her husband/boyfriend, was there, with the guys, huddled around him in their awkward and raw ways of sympathizing. One was singing a situation appropriate but disrespectful funk song. A few other batted around a soccer ball. R's eyes were red and drained and he crumbled under my touch. F- was preparing a little cocaine in a plastic cup. Grief therapy. I went to the hospital but V- was still in the laboring room. The guard looked at my white skin, blue eyes, and accent and gave me a non-invasive once-over. “What relation are you to her?” “I’m a friend...she stays on the street...you could call me a street educator...” “Say that. You’re an “educadora.” How nice, someone in a public hospital wanting to help.... I came back an hour later and they let me go up. We’d left another street friend in the waiting room where she cried deep motherly tears for Viviane and for the memory of her own young baby boy who died only months earlier. The other visitors stared and apparently the guards put her out once I’d gone up, because I walked out an hour later to find her sitting on the steps by the door, my sweater and uneaten cookies in her arms.
Going up into the hospital was odd. V- was lying on a bed in a room by herself, a few curtains offering privacy, the white hospital gown and sheet baggily draped over her frame. Her belly was still large—I had expected to see her little flat stomach again as if magical deflation happened once the baby was gone—and she looked at me in a haze, as if I was the last person she would ever have imagined standing in her hospital room. She complained of bleeding and pain. She let me hold her hand and the tears began to flow...in both our eyes. After a while, I was holding her hand less and she mine more. “Why did God have to take this one thing from me?” So little, they have so little, and this one thing of beauty, this little girl, Vive, whose name means life, so quickly excised from their lives. I had few words to say and so we sat and she asked where the others were and where R- was and if she would be able to see the body. A male nurse harassed her for not allowing them to put in an IV and I began to see life from the rigidly stubborn viewpoint of this tiny teenage mother, her neck scar tight like her eyes when she refused to speak to the nurses. We talked a bit, mostly me, and with gentle persuasion and a promise to go in person to speak to R- if he was there, she allowed the necessary medical procedures. One of the nurses asked me how long I’d known her, and I remembered those first photos of V- in Lapa at the very end of my Servant Team, three years ago.
We visited V- a couple times this week. She's receiving visitors, is healing. If the infection is gone and the treatments she needs are given, she should be able to leave today...pray for them.