He pushes away the lunch of five green beans, rice and some orange jello-y block. His nephew reaches for the orange jello, and flops it around, spilling orange juice on the hospital bed. The man smiles and so I breathe my relief, knowing, though, that this man has hard days ahead.
I am there to follow up on this patient who Brad brought in his MAF airplane to Tarakan from a remote village. When Brad first saw him, he was laying on a stretcher made of bamboo and canvas, bleeding from stab wounds in his chest. Self-inflicted stab wounds.
His wife, crying, climbed into the plane with him, her own hands cut, covered in iodine and bandages. Maybe she tried to stop him, Brad thought.
Brad flew the plane on the hour-long trip that would have taken days, weeks maybe, by boat on twisty jungle rivers or by foot through overgrown trails. This man, who didn’t want to live, would surely have gotten his wish if it weren’t for that plane.
The next day, the man’s clothes are clean, covering his wounds. And he is surrounded by his relatives who also came on the trip. He sits small, bent over on the bed just a meter away from other beds in the third class hospital room. But I hope he knows how important he is, what his life is worth.
For today this story has a happy ending. When he checks out of the hospital and returns on another airplane home, I hope his smile sticks to his thin face. And I pray the inside wounds heal. And I thank God for second chances.