Sunshine On The Beach; One Dark Cloud In The Sky
I always like being back in Mazatlan, the town I visited year after year, the town where I lived nearly three years. Familiar places, familiar people, old friends.
A sadness, a worry, clouds my holiday. You remember Carlos, my friend who drives a pulmonia? He would take me for groceries, for medical care, for important paperwork. He became my interpreter when I needed one. He and Selena helped me paint my apartment. We shared meals.
Three days prior to my leaving Etzatlan, Carlos phoned. Something was troubling about the call. He could hardly speak with me—or the connection was bad—or interference clogged the airways. His message sounded muddled. But he wanted me to know he would not be in Mazatlan to pick me up at the bus depot.
I felt puzzled. I felt confused. Was Carlos ill? Selena? This family had adopted me soon after I arrived in Mazatlan. They took care of me. After I had moved to Etzatlan, Selena made sure Carlos phoned me once a month. She said if I wasn’t happy in my new home, they would come get me, move me back to Mazatlan! That is how much they cared for me.
Julia just celebrated her quincenero, her fifteenth birthday, a landmark occasion in Mexican families. Carlitos, eighteen, is a baseball prodigy. Young as he is, Carlitos has played baseball in international tournaments two years consecutively.
When I got off the bus in Mazatlan, I went to see Anna, Carlos’ family friend who works at the Post and Ship, a woman whom I had previously met. Her son and Carlitos have played on the same baseball team since they were young boys.
Anna told me Carlitos had been in the hospital in Mazatlan for a month. Last week the whole family accompanied Carlitos in an ambulance to a different hospital in Obregon, about nine hours north of here. A cancerous tumor fills his left lung, pressing against his heart. Carlitos cannot walk and is unable to breathe unaided. After tests, doctors began treatment to shrink the tumor this week. Carlitos seems to be getting excellent care. That gives us hope.
It is hard for me to be here without having my friend drive me wherever I want to go. Whenever I show other pulmonia drivers my picture of Carlos, they always break into a big grin, “Oh, Carlos. He’s my amigo.” His family has a lot of supportive friends in Mazatlan. I stop and see Anna every few days.
More than this I do not know. I’m worried. I’m hopeful. I’m scared. I’m grateful Carlitos is getting good care. I’m realistic about how financially devastating this is for the family. Carlos and Selena are with their son, surrounding him with love. Julia often stays with him throughout the night.
Once again, I’m reminded, life is not fair. Me? Sun, surf, and unending shrimp dinners. But my good old reliable Catholic guilt has kicked in and I don’t enjoy my good fortune in the same way I usually do. My heart is with Carlos and family.
I would love to hop on a bus to Obregon and give Carlitos a hug. But the family can better use the money that trip would cost me. Kathy and Crin are pitching pesos into the pot too. Because of me, they’ve come to know and love Carlos. Crin has put out the word to generous friends in Victoria. One of our dollars buys a lot of pesos.
The donation that means the most to me is from Crin’s neighbor, ten-year old Owen, who gave his savings of twenty dollars because he plays baseball and Carlitos story touched his heart.
We give now. We’ll give more. Money helps but it’s not everything. We wish our donations to enable the family to stay in Obregon, to continue to surround their son and brother with healing love.
HDN: Looking out my back door
May 4, 2017