Early this morning the choir started practising in the church just on the other side of the fence. Lovely harmonies. They were accompanied by cock crows and the sounds of sweeping as every inch of our compound is brushed.
We went down to the isolation unit very early in an effort to keep ahead of everything for the day’s funeral. The first problem was that we had no car available until the afternoon. The second problem was that when the nurses went into the ward to see how the other two patients were, they found that one had died.
Then started really the most horrible tragi-comedy involving coffins, bodies and burial sites. We decided to bury in order of death. So last night’s death first.
The first mistake I made was talking to the wrong family and arranging the wrong coffin open in front of the isolation unit. It was made of wicket mat and was lined and covered with a kind of pink gingham and floral sheet. There was a lot of shouting between the family member that I was talking to and the family members from the second family, because of confusion over the coffins.
Then came the most unbelievable rain. I didn’t really know what to do as it was not going to be safe to try and carry the coffin and lower it into the grave as it would be too slippery. Amazingly, ten minutes later when we got to the cemetery the sky was blue and there was just a slight crackly noise as the last raindrops hit the dead grass stalks.
By the time I got back to the isolation unit, the third patient had died. He had been really very bad all day and his family had been outside crying and talking to him. His father had been in for a visit to say goodbye and they had cut two small pieces of string, one around his ankle and one around his wrist. Later in the morning they had asked Barbara to cut the last string which was round his tummy. It was awful to see: they were just waiting for him to die.
I went back to the cemetery and got two coffins into their graves before another torrential storm started with lightening that I could see streaking across the sky.