When a woman died today, Samedi told me to take
her pulse. I quietly felt her right wrist and said,
“None,” but then, with the anxiety of pronouncing
death being too much for me to do alone, I asked
Samedi to take it, too — because calling death almost
feels like killing. Who will be the one to say there’s
no hope for life here, to give up, to decide it’s over?
No one signs up for that and yet when someone
dies, pretending they didn’t won’t last long. You
think that maybe you’re just not finding the right
place on her wrist where the pulse might be felt.
But no, she’s really dead. At birth we announce
it and give the welcome, and at the end, we say
goodbye and say the benediction.
~ Emily Wilkens
2010 health science graduate of Walla Walla University
Read more in Emily’s book, “African Rice Heart,” which tells in first person of her experiences serving the people of Chad. The book is available on amazon.com in both paperback and for Kindle.