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[LJ Idol 7: Topic 18] Contagious

[Warning: torture in the name of medical treatment. Sort of.]

The doctors and experts and great minds put their heads together in meeting after meeting, but none of them could figure out what was wrong with her.

All they knew - they thought - was that it was chronic, and probably contagious, and most likely fatal. And perhaps, just perhaps, a judgment from the Divine (or even from the natural order of things) regarding her own moral failings.

She tried to tell them that she was hurt, and sick, but that she was not going to die. They did not understand her language, so they ignored her.

The safest course of action would be to get away, to leave her to die, to sacrifice her before further losses occurred, before this plague-with-no-name was given the opportunity to spread. So that's what the great experts did. Their underlings, younger and more reckless, or perhaps simply more sadistic, stayed behind to try experimental medicine. They poisoned her and burned her and broke her to rid her of her malignancy, or perhaps to rid themselves of the contaminating malignancy that was her. When their shifts were over, they would flee and hope that not one drop of her lifeblood, not one cell of her skin, would follow them where they lived.

And they all shook their heads as she continued to exist throughout all their experimentation - the clumsy, the cautious, the out-there, the dangerous, the downright cruel. She neither died nor recovered. She simply endured.

Until another group came, some who had heard tales of the beauty that she once had been, others who were perhaps even old enough to remember what she once was like, others still who did not know why they were there but simply felt they had been told to come. And they, of many languages, recognized the one she whispered in her half-conscious delirium, and they understood.

They knelt down to pray for her.

They gathered in their houses, around potluck dinners, to talk about how best to take care of her.

They brought her flowers, day after day, year after year.

They played songs of their own creation for her, and called them her songs.

They brought her close enough to hear a newborn baby's first cry.

And they held her close to their hearts, and they listened to her words (no matter how foreign, no matter how delirious), and they loved her, and they promised to help with everything they had and with everything they were.

And slowly, unnoticed at first, she began to heal.

And the latest daredevil scientists with their experimental treatments began to notice, and began to take the credit, and had no idea how to react when she told them "NO!" in a strong and clear voice that not even they could mistake.

For she knew that she was not healed by knives or drugs, but by flowers and songs and faith. And while her prior condition was, perhaps, contagious, its cure was far more so.

And at last she rose from what so many believed could only be a deathbed, to embrace all those who had kept faith with her.

She is the neighborhood, from sidewalk to sky, from storefront to school.

She is the self and the soul of who they are.

She is - will always be - their Home.


( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 22nd, 2011 10:01 am (UTC)
Nice message. Personally I try to stay away from medical interference whenever possible. I feel like I'm healthier because I don't take drugs to cure a cold, or whatever. My illnesses clear up quicker than when my husband has the same thing, and does use drugs. Go figure. Anyway, that's pretty much how I could relate to the power of faith over medicine. Not that I think it works all the time, but I do think it's important to recognise medicine might not be the best cure for something.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)
We had a case study last semester (that the instructor was actually involved in when it happened) about how special-ordering lots of anti-lice shampoo isn't going to help in an extremely poor school district where people are living in overcrowded housing that has no running water. Of course, nobody figured this out until they asked the parents, which was apparently incredibly revolutionary but should just be a matter of common sense and common decency.

Yay, first world solutions.
(no subject) - comedychick - Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 22nd, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
A beautifully written piece. I wasn't expecting the ending and didn't know who you were writing about.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
This had two inspirations.

One was the revitalization work done by my landlords and others in my former neighborhood in Rochester. Among other things, when a house burned down next door to one of their properties, they bought up the lot and turned it into a park and flower garden. I always drive through the old neighborhood when I'm in town and it's an amazing sight, especially the sunflowers that are everywhere.

The other was the Mount Trashmore saga of Bridgeport, CT and the prayer vigils it inspired. My father grew up there, and I remember visiting my grandparents in Bridgeport when I was little, so I have ties of a sort there as well.

Edited at 2011-03-23 03:23 am (UTC)
Mar. 22nd, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
It's just.....lovely. So very well written.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
Thanks very much. :)
Mar. 22nd, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
I really liked this. Amazing what a little faith can do!
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:30 am (UTC)
Sometimes it takes a lot of faith.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 02:57 am (UTC)
Sometimes faith and love are what we really need to heal (not that modern medicine hurts, but people underestimate the power of positive thinking/actions).
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
Sometimes people are so eager to FIX THINGS that they forget to actually ask what the problem is. :P
Mar. 23rd, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
I totally did not expect that ending. I really liked this a lot and how you tied together the theory of medicine to also re-establishing a neighborhood.

Very creative.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
I originally had a vague idea that I was going to write about Mount Trashmore, and then this is what I came up with.

Glad you liked it!
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
I like this. It's different. Of course the medical torture and experementation didn't work. lol No one knew what they were doing.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:35 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it.

I did some writing last semester for a class on the problem of "absentee professionals" in urban areas. They're no better for a neighborhood than absentee landlords (and THAT is a whole other thing with me).
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:06 am (UTC)
Absolutely lovely.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
Thanks :)
Mar. 23rd, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)
Really hit the nail on the head as to looking for real solutions to problems instead of treating the symptoms. And I just loved your descriptions of how the community rallied - the very basic, low-tech stuff. It's great :)
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked. :)
Mar. 23rd, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
My old neighborhood could use a little faith...
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
There needs to be more to go around!
Mar. 23rd, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
A wonderful story of renewal and coming back to life in a natural fashion.
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it!
Mar. 24th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
Very lovely. I thought maybe you were talking about the Earth in general, rather than a neighborhood, but I really enjoyed the underlying message regardless.
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Part of the problem is that sometimes the very people who would say this about the Earth in general are the first to disparage old urban neighborhoods. I ran into that a lot when I was taking environmental studies classes as an undergrad.
Mar. 24th, 2011 12:45 pm (UTC)
I believe there is often a connection between mind, soul and health. I know somethings are caused by infection and/or viruses but I do think people sometimes forget about the emotional component when someone is trying to heal.

This was a lovely and very thought-provoking entry!
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
And, you know, not re-traumatizing people (or families, or cities) in the name of trying to heal them would be a damn good start.
Mar. 24th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
That really was lovely. I gave a little fist pump when she beagn to heal :)
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
Yay! Glad you liked it!
Mar. 25th, 2011 12:43 pm (UTC)
I took this to mean "aging in general," with your own determination to get out of bed being the thing that gets you out of bed.

But that's because this piece was pretty universal.
Mar. 26th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
Old shouldn't have to be a bad thing. My 95-year-old grandmother is still very much involved in the world around her.
(no subject) - i_17bingo - Mar. 26th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
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