For us the day was excruciating in its needless waste of a life. Byaruhanga died of Bundibugyo. He had a benign conjunctival problem and while waiting for the eye specialists to whom we had referred him to come next month, someone else prescribed a pain medicine with a high incidence of toxic ulcer-inducing side effects. By the time he called Ndiyezika on his third day of taking it, and Ndiyezika brought him to Scott, he was in retrospect in the process of perforating through his stomach. His exam was not as impressive as his own sense of pain and impending doom, but enough for Scott to send him to see the surgeon, and request an xray. If the xray machine had been functional, if the surgeon had decided to operate sooner, if the critical care in the operating room was better, if his blood type had been available . . .as an otherwise very healthy young man he should have pulled through. But in the real world of Bundibugyo where the system is overloaded and barely a step ahead of collapse (including us), he got too little too late. And he died.
This is the third burial we've been to of long-term friends and acquaintances in the last few weeks. None of the three men would have died in even a mediocre medical center in the States. The injustice of the disparity in care makes us cry out: how long, oh Lord? And the targeting of a young teacher like this, or a young doctor like Jonah, seems tragically unfair to a society which needs their gifts. I can not explain why God allowed them to show such promise and then be taken away decades before their three-score-and-ten. And I don't expect to see the equation balanced, the wrong made right, in this life. Death stalks, surreptitious. A wounded enemy can be the most dangerous. We believe in death's final defeat, but in the interim life has lost some important battles of late.