The doctor lifted the limp hand of his small patient. Stroking her brown, fever soaked tresses, he felt an all too familiar anger rise in his throat. It came from deep within his gut, growing with each breath. Turning from the child’s bed, he resisted the urge to kick, scream, or swear. What would be the use? None of that would change a thing. Children live. Children die. One more would soon be gone.
The physician’s mind raced. Advances in medicine had certainly come, but for this child here and now, none of it was worth a whit. He was a man of science and intellect, a man who suppressed emotional reactions to his patient’s conditions. He couldn’t--- no, they couldn’t afford that luxury. It was his job to use logic. It was his job to find the problem; name it; and fix it.
It was his job, but the doctor stood helpless.
Emptiness gnawed at him. What good was he? Oh, he could splint a broken arm. Sure, no problem there. He could advise the use of an elixir to settle a rebelling stomach. No problem there either. He’d bandaged countless wounds, but now, he had to face telling the parents. How he wished it were not these parents. He recoiled at the thought. His job.
“No! I will not let my child die! You are wrong! How can you tell me such a thi----” His sister’s words broke with her heart as the doctor reached out to her, only to be brushed aside. “If you cannot help us,” she sobbed, “we will find another!”
“Ruth, please, it is no use.” He could hardly bear to see his sister so distraught. “No one can help. You must let Tabitha go.”
Ruth’s eyes blazed as she turned to her husband. “Jay, go get the one they told us about! You must get him! Please, go!”
But before the words had barely left her lips, the child died. The young doctor searched his sister’s eyes. They were silent, determined eyes, and he ached for her.
“Jay, go.” Her whispered words were insistent, but controlled.
“Ruth, you don’t mean—“ Now it was her brother’s voice that broke, “Ruth, don’t do this thing.” He looked to Jay, but his brother-in-law was gone.
“They are mad with grief,” he thought, “senseless in their pain. Only time can heal them now.” He gently pulled the cloth over Tabitha’s face while his sister stood, waiting.
After a couple of hours had passed, the sudden noise of approaching voices stirred the brother and sister out of their silence. Jay’s voice seemed nearer, followed by another unfamiliar deeper one. The doctor dreaded this encounter, but if it meant his sister’s acceptance of her child’s death, it would be worth the discomfort.
“She’s in here. Please help her.” Jay’s words seemed senseless. The man who followed him into the room looked immediately to Ruth who said nothing. Then the stranger’s eyes turned to the child.
“Parents, you may stay. All others must leave.” The stranger’s words were gentle yet firm. The doctor wanted to feel cautious, protective of his sister’s family, yet something seemed to draw him back and away from the room.
He listened intently, trying to decipher the few sounds coming from the child’s sleeping area. The stranger had brought no instruments, bags or medicines. What could he be doing?
A faint sound of chatting floated his way from inside the room. Then he heard the high pitched softness of --- no, it couldn't be. Was he actually hearing little Tabitha’s voice? The doctor leaned nearer to the room’s entrance. A little too near, in fact, as a laughing bundle of childhood charm skipped through the curtained doorway.
“Uncle Luke! Uncle Luke! I’m well! I’m well!” The stunned doctor struggled to keep his balance as Tabitha’s arms wrapped around him in leaping childhood excitement. Luke shook his head to brush away what surely was a dream, but there she was, full of life and joy, giggling in his arms before returning to her mother.
Luke darted into the room. There he searched the eyes of this perfect stranger. “Please, let me follow you, Sir.”
“Your time to travel is not yet, Luke. I will send one for you in My time. Then you will heal souls as well as earthly flesh.”
Luke bowed at the Physician’s feet, “When You send for me, Sir, I will be ready.”
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