I have been five days in Cusco Peru, arriving just 24 hours after twenty-five year old daughter Molly went into cardiac arrest from pulmonary emboli, blood clots in her lungs. This happened while she was actually in the hospital being tested for pneumonia. The medical staff at this hospital in Cusco saved her life, and she is thankfully in recovery.
It is all so familiar. After having spent two weeks living with Molly here four summers ago, I realize I know my way around, can truly feel the pulse of this amazing city that my daughter has made her home.
But I had forgotten about the dogs. The dogs that roam freely, alone, in pairs, or in small groups. They are seen sleeping everywhere, romping together in the parks, negotiating traffic just like us humans. I asked Molly about the dogs and her response was to frown a bit. Not that she doesn’t love them. I remember four years ago seeing certain dogs follow her, be close as if they knew her and she wholeheartedly embraced this. She explained now her concern that the city does not take responsibility for these otherwise homeless creatures who are routinely turned out by owners for any number of reasons, left to find their own way. They eat off the street, copulate freely, and reproduce to create a whole new population of beings that flow through the streets as freely as the humans.
I wake in the wee hours each morning to their barking. Ironically it sounds as natural here as the birds chirping back home, as much a part of the ambiance as the honking horns and music that I hear at all hours from my hotel room on the Plaza de Armas.
Molly is out of intensive care and back in the same room she was in before her attack to recover and determine next steps with the doctors here. Grateful for the input of medically trained family and friends who have helped validate that Molly is getting what she needs right now. We play gin rummy, a fun way to pass the time. We are also getting to know her two roommates, Aurelia and Paulina. They are both lovely women and even though we need Molly as translator, there is an ease of sharing space and life stories with these women. When Aurelia complained of a sore back, it felt completely natural to offer her my hands to ease some of the ache from sleeping on too hard mattresses, as I have been doing with Molly.
Where I was originally surprised at the starkness of the room, I have come to appreciate the economy of how this hospital works. It is sparkling clean. I love the pitchers and thermoses of warm anise tea that is available at all times for patients. There is evidence of creative re-use of resources instead of waste. It is the closest to home cooked feeling hospital food I have ever seen. Molly displays her tolerance and acceptance beautifully and periodically gives in to moments of sadness, wanting to get back to her life. In our longs stretches of time together at the hospital, she shares the bits of her life that like little puzzle pieces coming together, begin to form a much clearer picture of who she is in this place. Her community of loved ones and friends come faithfully each day during visiting hours, and that is when I take my leave and go out to explore a little further on my own. Yesterday it was to find yarn and knitting needles so Molly and I can knit together.
It’s almost time to go down for the lovely breakfast buffet that is included with my hotel stay here each day. Peruvians make fresh juice and you can find it everywhere. Molly’s favorite is a combination of papaya and orange and there the pitchers were yesterday, sparkling in the morning sun and beckoning for engagement.
Just like Molly, full of life and passion and now, wisdom from an experience that will undoubtably change how she moves forward in her passion.