| Click Now to Order
On the door, in big red letters
was the warning "Infectious
In smaller letters the words, "wear gloves and a mask." Acquired
Immune deficiency syndrome was just beginning to make the headlines. Before
then, Aids were people who helped teachers, not a disease.
Inside, I saw an effeminate
man with sores all over his shriveled body. His eyes were half glazed.
He habitually licked his lips, and spoke with a soft, cracking voice.
I was surprised at how much
I liked him. Though I didn't know much about AIDS, I knew that of the three
common ways to contract it, two are immoral. I never asked Monty how he
got it. The question seemed inappropriate and irrelevant.
He complained about the sores
in his mouth and the pain--it was with him constantly. He knew he would
die sooner or later, and preferred it to be sooner.
I read scripture, prayed
for him and gave him my card. As I was leaving, I bent down and kissed
him on his forehead and assured him of my continued prayer.
Why did I kiss his forehead?
I've never kissed a patient before or since, but at the time I acted instinctively.
In retrospect, I think it was in response to that sign on the door. It
was my way of acknowledging his humanity.
I never spoke to him again.
A month later, his parents sent me a note. They found my card in his belongings
after he died and they wrote to thank me for ministering to him.
Last week, I thought about
this event as I entered another hospital room with a warning sign on the
door. This time I walked into the room with my suitcase in hand. I was
about to drink radioactive iodine as treatment for papillary cancer, which
would result in my isolation for one week.
This morning, for the first
time since the treatment, my wife gave me a big hug as I left for work.
I felt human again. I wonder what the Leper felt like when Jesus reached
out his hand and touched him?