I turned thirty-one on the thirty-first of January. The golden birthday, as many call it. I've had to wait the longest, being born on the final day of the month. Maybe like having a last name at the end of the alphabet. I don't know what a golden birthday represents beyond the clever age and date connection, but regardless, this birthday was special.
I spent the day in the Lwala hospital, shadowing my friend Japolo as he served patients with precision and care. As we traveled through the crowded ward, I was reminded that we are not guaranteed any breath beyond the one we have just taken, and to live past each breath is a miracle.
As we made the rounds, I met a man with a severe case of malaria which causes a bit of a psychosis along with horrible pain. His groans of physical suffering were small compared to the ones he had wailed just two weeks ago when his one-year-old son died of anemia.
A malaria outbreak. An increase in anemia deaths. We are full here, all beds in the ward occupied. Non-contagious babies sharing beds together. Two babies born this morning. Four born here through the night.
We each have one precious life, one light to shine in the world. Some burn steadily through the years until the wick is no more. Others are gone with a breath. For thirty-one years on this thirty-first of January, I give thanks.