I used to have a bank account just for me that I called my "secret account". Every month I would scoop a bit of money from my paychecks and and put it into my secret account with the idea that by the time I was ready to retire I'd have thousands of dollars saved that Tom and I could use for traveling.
Every now and then, though, I'd find myself delving into my secret account for some necessity or other, so my savings never grew at a great rate.
Still, just before all Zorayda's troubles began I had about $3,000 in my secret account.
By the time Camila arrived at the hospital in Managua my secret account was empty and closed out.
Usually when I told someone my on-going story of trying to save Zorayda's family I met with the same tsk-ing attitude as the head-shakers in the Thai life insurance commercial.
(Which, if you still haven't seen it, is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZGghmwUcbQ
Be sure and see it if you haven't yet).
Some people were convinced I was being scammed by this lady. After all, I was sending all this money based on phone requests. Somebody joked that what if I dropped in unannounced on the village and everyone was actually well and walking around in good shoes with nice clothes, fixed-up houses and cars. To which I replied that if Zorayda's family was in reality well and scamming me about the sickness, if the money I'd sent actually resulted in everyone in the village being well and having good stuff and good lives then I'd be thrilled. I'd find the means to send twice as much.
But all the money I'd sent up to now had only made every situation worse.
The money I sent for Ascencion's operation hadn't saved his life.
If I hadn't kept sending money for Camila's continued hospitalization she would have died at home in the care of her family. Zorayda in her grief would have been sustained by the emotional support of her family and neighbors, been comforted, had the rough edges of her sorrow softened by the presence of her other children, her mother, her brothers, sister, aunts, uncles and cousins. And she'd have had no choice but to bow to the reality of life and death in the world she lived in.
But she rejected all that because she was desperate to save the life of her child, even at the cost of being torn from the people who sustained her. And so, with my money to sustain her, she was cast adrift, alone, terrified and desperate in Managua.
I just want to insert here that by the time all this was taking place the two nuns who'd worked in the villlage, both in their late-80's and physically unwell, were gone from the Casa de Paz, having finally been called into retirement to the Maryknoll Mother House in upstate New York. So the villagers were now on their own, with the members of the parish council serving as the village administrators and using the old convent as their office and community meeting place, as it had been during the 50 years of Maryknoll presence in the village.
But with the nuns' departure Zorayda and her mother Lupe lost their employment, leaving Ascencion with his security guard job as their sole breadwinner.
I don't know how the family survived financially after Ascencion died, but I believe that in the village extended families survived as a unit, and Zorayda had many relatives around her - the children ran freely from house to house, and every mother was a mother to all her nieces and nephews as well as her own children. Some of the villagers had farms and I suppose they sold their livestock and crops in the market in Leon.
And so when Zorayda left for Managua relatives and neighbors brought food and helped Lupe with Zorayda's other children.
And I kept sending money. Because I didn't have the heart not to. Because in Zorayda's shoes I'd be doing the same thing, begging for money to save my child. I kept sending money because my heart hurt.
The days passed, Camila remained in a coma and finally the doctors told Zorayda there was nothing they could do for Camila but that there was a hospital in Cuba that perhaps could. The medical transport flight for Camila would cost $1,000 and Zorayda would have to arrange her own transportation.
Zorayda asked me for the money.
But I knew that there was no miracle waiting for Camila and her mother in Cuba.
I finally said no to her.
After which there followed series of events that, though I was originally planning on recounting in this blog, I've now decided would be better left unshared for the sake of Zorayda's and the others involved. Anyway I guess enough's been said.
Camila died in the children's hospital in Managua.
I sent money for her return with her mother to their village.