A Christmas story

FILE–Five-month-old AIDS sufferer Kgomotso Mahlangu, lays in a hospital bed in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, Oct. 26 1999. The AIDS epidemic is so overwhelming South Africa that some public hospitals are turning people away, limiting treatment and forcing doctors to make hard decisions on whom to save. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

The saddest patient I ever had was dying of AIDS, before we knew what was going on. Her family was afraid of her, and much of the staff.

Truth be told, I was a little bit scared, too, but was so deep into a ward full of children dying back in the early 90s that I figured if it was that contagious, I was doomed as well.

So I spent a lot of time with her.

And I did a lot of things to her that hurt her anyway.

And now as I slowly descend the same arc she traveled too quickly, as we all are traveling, I think of her.

Her name was Daphne.

I can blather on about how I learned from her, how she was heroic, how what we learned from her helped us help other children later.

But that’s all noise.

The Christmas story is a powerful one, and part of its power is the juxtaposition of a baby and a fate we know too well.

I am not sure what the point to this story is–maybe there is no point.

But I know this much–what we do not do matters as much as what we do.

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