All my bags are packed…


All my bags are packed…

I hate that song. But it’s running through my head at the moment. I’ve just finished the whirlwind of last minute preparations. I think I’ve got everything. I’ve done the modern pre-flight ritual of checking my carry-on bag for waylaid pocket knives or nail clippers. I’ve got some music and a book to take with me.

The only monkey wrench in the whole process was this morning when I weighed my bags. I like to travel light. But both the large bags I’m taking with me were over the weight limit. They’re mostly filled with things to give away when I arrive. I’m carrying the material to construct four comfort packs to distribute to AIDS Hospice patients. That and the pens and pencils for the students and teachers is what has pushed me over the weight limit.

We sent an entire container of these comfort packs to Swaziland a few years ago. I forgot how much they weigh. The chief culprits in the conspiracy to push my bags over the limit are the plastic tarps. I’m carrying 4 heavy plastic tarps. They’re for putting under the patient who is laying on a dirt floor in most cases. It keeps the floor area relatively sterile. It makes it easy to hose off the environs when “accidents’ happen Рtreating a patient with AIDS requires extra care, people have to think through how to manage bodily waste and fluids.

Somehow these tarps seem particularly grim. I used the same sort when I used to camp. We would put them under our tents to keep us dry. I never imagined that they might be needed to put under a person to keep the ground clean. The reality of this disease and the struggle to manage and treat its symptoms in Swaziland are coming clearer to me. Such a simple thing. Such awful implications.

I said a prayer for the people who would use these tarps. May God be with them through their final journey.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...