Monday, January 9, 2012

Life and death

We are getting a new neighbor at the clinic. The neighborhood next to us is changing its small black tanks to get water for this larger (although smaller than other neighborhoods) tank that will feed directly into their homes. Always nice to have a quiet neighbor out your window. The streets around the block though are all torn up and inaccessible until they finish...the main drag is still open however. The Church has to park their buses access to the parking lot for...well, already about a this rate probably a few months more. When it is done should revolutionize the neighborhood and I would imagine further reduce the number of water trucks to come passing by daily, no one will mind that...except the water trucks.

Thursday while we were unloading the clothing container we got word Neris’ dad died. He was at the clinic regularly (he sold newspapers) and Jana spotted him walking on the road as we were driving up to the clinic that afternoon. It was quite a shock, as death can often be.
I am not a fan of wakes, or visiting homes after a death, although it is a very much respected custom here. Sometimes you have to stuff your personal stuff and just go. Since we were already up there with the container, Jana and I went down to see Neris and pay our respects. When we got there, there was a crowd in front of the Church, and a taxi. Neris lives just down the block from the Church, but you can not drive a car there with the roads torn up for the above mentioned project.
I found Neris and gave her a hug...then realized her dad was inside the taxi. It was a rather chaotic scene, not helped when a few dogs tearing after each other causing us to scatter for cover from them fighting. Then the body was moved to a pick up truck...down to the main gate of the Church, and then inside. It really was very different than what most people would expect after a death in the first world, but very normal here. No autopsy was done (Neris took his BP, something over 200, even with medicine) and the death certificate was completed with just asking what they thought he died from, I did not hear who came to “prepare” the body for burial, but that is how it is done, in your home or such. Cotton balls are often used to prevent swelling and dry ice sometimes in the casket for the smell. Most burials are done within 24 hours of death mostly for the smell and bloating. You buy a casket elsewhere, do it all yourself or find someone who knows to help. (Oscar has “prepared” more people than I can count.) Most cemeteries at least dig the hole for you...but not all. (FYI...if you are wealthy enough, you pour cement on top of the casket before throwing back in the dirt, to deter grave robbing.)
The body was left there for some time while people gathered around to just look. Loved ones were nearby sobbing/crying...a very physical and draining process. Eventually a sheet was brought in...but people lift it regularly to take a look.
Death is a part of life regular, so common, and not clean, sanitized, or protected. If it is not someone you gather and stare, almost gawk. If it is someone you is devastating. We are all praying for Neris and her family in this difficult time, thanks to those that would join us.

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