Some days I hate this disease called AIDS.
I hate it on Mondays when I do ward rounds,
and bed after bed a gaunt face looks up at me
and a hacking cough screams for relief.
I hate it on Tuesdays when I try to find some money
to buy drugs no longer supplied by the government.
I hate it on Wednesdays when another surgery needs to be done,
because disease has won over a weakened immune system.
I hate it on Thursdays when I look at a bench full of wasted people,
skin drawn tight over skulls with weeping lesions, in out-patients.
I hate it on Fridays when I visit one staff-member dying of AIDS
and listen to a fearful other: “I am faithful, but. my husband is not.”
I hate it on Saturday when Tandi dies,
Tandi, only six years old, full of warts and cough and pain
and too thin and too short and now dead.
Tandi, who has lost the fight, and Nyasha, eight,
still fighting, and Aaron, six, who will die soon.
I hate the ones who caused their disease.
Was it an unfaithful father who infected the mother,
a mother who consoled herself with boyfriends,
or a relative who abused them? I hate them all, some days.
Some days I don’t care any more who comes in:
another dying person we can’t help anyhow.
So now they know they should have lived differently;
it is too late. A death is just another death.
I have no tears left for the relatives, the orphans—
and then I hate myself for the lack of compassion, some days.
Sundays I hate this disease that robs life and joy,
that leaves orphans lonely and grandmothers stranded,
and widows starving and children dying.
And I wonder about the God who could stop it all
with one of His mighty words, and then I hate Him, too, some days, Sundays.
Some days I dream of being wise and old, sitting in my rocking chair,
telling a young aspiring doctor of those days,
when AIDS was a problem and there was no cure,
and see her wide eyes not quite understanding, like me
when I was told about syphilis before a cure was found.
But I know after AIDS another disease will come,
causing pain and death, unbelievable suffering, some day.
Some days I dream of a day when suffering stops,
no more pain, disease, death, widowers,
orphans, grief, loneliness, and tears.
And I know it will happen, one day.
Then I love the One Who was lonely, Who suffered,
Who died so we could see that day. One day. Jesus.