Friday, August 24, 2012

Being alone makes it worse

When as a little boy, I stumbled and skinned my knee, my loving mother was there to wipe my tears and tend to my pain.

Even when I was in high school, and had to stay home from school with the flu, Mom was there with chicken soup.

Many years later, when a stubborn staph infection tried to introduce me to the grim reaper, Marcia---my partner for life---was there to fight off the demons and ride out the storm with me.

I cite these examples to show the stark contrast with my friends in prison.

Mark has been struggling for years to get appropriate surgery after a prison injury, and an even simpler matter: he wants something for the pain. We're doing our best to try to help, but we're on the outside; he's on the inside. He's alone. He said to me today: "I am in so much daily pain and finding it hard to even walk around or sit still without complaining about pain."

I'm sorry. He has no mother, no wife, not even a friend to help him through this.

Ben has MS, and is in prison. His mother says that, after a severe episode, he couldn't walk and they just made him crawl on the floor to get anywhere. He overheard a guard say, "Don't help him after what he did." He's alone. His mom is on the outside.

Mary is recovering from surgery in prison. Alone. And she gets no empathy in the infirmary. Her friend in prison says, "There is no compassion in that unit unless it comes from the inmates themselves." And then she asks: "Do health care professionals lose the 'do no harm' oath when it comes to the care of prisoners?"

St. Teresa of Avila said, "Pain is never permanent."

Maybe so, but I don't think there's any question that being alone makes it worse.

Somehow I believe that Jesus is there, holding the hand of each one of these hurting prisoners.

Pray for them.

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