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COLLOQUIUM - January 2011
- Written by Roberto Moulun, M.D.
By Roberto Moulun, M.D.
A Strange Event in Saipan
It was sweltering hot that Thursday, noon, in Saipan, when Rose Marie bent her head over her folded arms. We thought she had fainted, but she had died.
But let me first explain. We, the Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross, had been invited by Governor Tenorio to assist the disaster victims of two consecutive typhoons. Rose Marie, one of our most experienced Social Workers, was interviewing a Chamorro woman whose home was destroyed by storms.
The woman was promptly whisked away and told that her Social Worker had fainted from the heat. She was given a new appointment for the next Monday.
On Friday morning, we, the mournful members of our group, held a simple ceremony by the ocean to say farewell to our beloved colleague. Each of us said a few words and threw into the water flower leis as we sang “Aloha . . .A close embrace until we meet again.”
We returned to work. But I was restless, ill at ease. So I spoke with the members of my team. Our chauffeur was a gigantic Samoan man, a former police chief on his island. Two Social workers, one an experienced German lady, the other a younger Jewish woman, a seasoned nurse and a veteran of many disasters. They agreed with me we should go and visit the woman who had been interviewed by Rose Marie.
Now, all the streets in Saipan have a name but the names are not posted, so even though we had the address of the Chamorro woman, we promptly got lost. One winding street followed another equally twisted, one baffling corner followed the next. Finally, in an alley we saw a man working on a green truck, who offered to guide us. We followed him through a maze of streets. At last, we reached one where a woman frantically waved at us. She was the one we sought.
“I was waiting for you,” she said. “My worker told me you would come, following a green truck and you would help me.”
“Your worker?” I asked surprised.
“Yes, Rosa Maria, the one who fainted. She came yesterday evening, but could not stay long. She told me to wait for you today.”
Baffled I went back to the car and asked the nurse to follow me. The woman repeated what she had said to me. We both returned to the car, and said nothing to the rest. Not then.
This is the event I have described in synopsis. Perhaps it should be the end of the story. But not for me. It has left me in a quandary. Is there then life beyond bodily death?
It is lonesome out there in the reef that faces an uncharted ocean, an ocean from which no traveler returns. Many a responsible investigator has attempted in vain to map it. Some fancier ones from their rocking chairs described lands with rivers flowing with milk and honey, where mermaids sing from hidden rocks, or where horrendous dragons spit fire and damnation.
I take refuge in the words of Louis Pasteur: “In each one of us, there are two men--the man of science, who after making tabula raza, attempt through research, intelligence, and effort, to reach the knowledge of truth. And the man of heart and intuition, who still cries over the departure of those he loved, and hopes and believes he will see them again. Both domains are separate. Woe to the one who confuses them.”