Two Dying Women
There are two women in the same city from very different walks of life. The one is wealthy. She lays on a bed that is neatly made with fresh linens that sits in a metal frame two feet off the ground. Her room is filled with the aroma of musty perfume and antiseptic cleaner. The clothes that cover her body are clean as is the dressing on her face. Her many daughters and granddaughters surround her bed offering support and sympathy. She resides in a sizeable gated home, with a spacious courtyard and the sun beams onto her through her large windows. Her daughter hands 20,000 shillings to the nurse for her services as she enters the room, the daughter does this because this woman’s floor is made of marble.
The other woman is poor. She is asleep on a deteriorating mattress, half of its original size on the ground. The smell of urine is robust and pungent in the air. She is naked beside the thin blanket and countless flies that cover her wasting body. Her only company is a 13-year-old caregiver as there is no family in sight. She lives in a single room house with walls made of mud, no window, and a single solid metal door. The space is void of light besides the nearly burnt out flashlight she keeps by her head. As the nurse enters the room, the woman extends her hand in gratitude and gives nothing else in exchange for the care. This is because this woman’s floor is made of dirt.
Although their lives may seem vastly different, these two women share a lot of similarities. Both are cancer patients receiving palliative care delivered in their homes by the same nurses employed by an NGO. They feel the same pain, take the same medications, pray the same prayers, and both hold the same terminal prognosis.
And regardless of what materials make up their floors, they both deserve and have been allotted the chance to die a dignified death.