Home is Where the Heart is

Growing up, there were spider plants everywhere. My mom had maybe 10 spider plants throughout the house; keeping with the tradition, as does my own. When we got to the seminary and were shown where we would be staying, I knew I was home because of the 10 or so spider plants planted directly outside our room. This small comfort meant everything and allowed my preceding life to coalesce with the new one just beginning.

I have never felt more welcome into a community before walking into that of Cuidad de Esperanza. All the directors, professors, and students immediately treated us as if we were one of their own; a simple extension of their own family. They all love unconditionally and accept all the flaws you walk in with, which for most of us was our ability to speak Spanish. In a family you can always count on each other. I found that within the community and in our team. We laugh with our whole bodies, ugly cry, and truly listen. Not just listen to respond, but listen with no alternative motives, to make sure they feel heard and offer anything possible whether its just a hand or a smile. The people at Cuidad do all this as the norm, not the exception, a stark contrast to what we are used to state side. When they ask “¿Como estas?” they want to hear about your day and will give up their next two minutes to listen with their whole bodies, a quality we have all been lacking.

However, this is the quality that Dr. Lauri and Dr. Richard have fully embodied as doctors. They listen to every patient with the same patience they would their own family members. They make their patients laugh by joking about making dancing dates or by making the softest bird noise when looking into the ears of the children and asking “pajaritos?” Their eyes light up and twinkle somehow even more when they can speak with and care for their patients. Watching how they work (which isn’t a good enough word for what they do) inspires me to be a better person and instills a desire to be that great of a doctor one day.

It’s not just them though. It’s one thing to have a truly amazing doctor, but to also have a compassionate nurse and a knowledgeable pharmacist is another. Even still, all together? The integration of disciplines so effortlessly and cohesively allows for a deeper understanding of how the healthcare system could and should work. Every brain working in network to give every single person that walks through the clinic doors the best possible chance to be healed and to thrive. And good lord the brain capability in these four rooms. Each holds a contributing piece of information that leads to the best possible care. It’s like watching a symphony orchestra. All the parts playing independently yet harmoniously to give way to a powerful and robust sound. The nurses, the percussion and heartbeat of clinic keeping beat and pace of todos. The doctors, the brass adding depth and dimension to the entirety of the concerto, seemingly improvised yet structured. The pharmacy, the woodwinds introducing a melody, a regime, something to recognize when all else is complex. The strings, oh the strings, the soul and passion: the patient. The complexity and dynamics of whole working together to produce salud.

I will never forget the people, never recreate the feelings, never comprehend the true meaning of all of what I’ve witnessed. Guatemala, te amo.

Kelley Coakley


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