Death at a Distance

I saw someone’s Facebook status today:



And I was immediately struck with anger.

At first, I wasn’t sure quite why. I get what they meant. It seems like Ebola’s everywhere! It’s constantly on the news, all over the internet, and everyone’s talking about it. It makes sense to be sick of hearing about it.  We’re bound to get sick of hearing about anything that much!

But still, I couldn’t shake the discomfort that rung in my head over that status. Ebola seems far away, after all, it’s only been diagnosed four times in the US. It’s easy to tuck it away in your mind as something distant that doesn’t affect you and forget why it’s a big deal.

It’s even become a hot topic for jokes on social media:

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Because so many see this very real disease as a far away concept, we find safety in our distance and it’s easy to make light of it.

But guys….



4,877 deaths. 9,935 sufferers. That’s not funny. That’s not something to ask to “omg shut up.”

The idea of disease never really hit home for me until my little sister was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, Ebola and cancer are two very different things. But I know what it’s like to watch someone I love very dearly suffer. I know what it’s like to hold my sister’s hand while she cries because she can’t escape the pain or the fear that comes with her disease. I know what it’s like to cry myself to sleep begging God to take her illness away. And I can’t help but imagine a sister somewhere in Africa in a situation very similar to my own, watching her loved one suffer, hearing her cries, and begging for it to all be over- but without the blessings of medicine and technology that my sister has access to.

We are quick to throw on our pink gear for breast cancer awareness and dump ice on our head for ALS because that kind of awareness is fun and easy. I’m not trying to diminish those causes- they are great causes that deserve promotion. But I mean to make note of the fact that when another very real disease with very real consequences is brought to light and gains awareness, people groan that it’s in the news again and make jokes about it on the internet. Because Ebola doesn’t have the fun and cute promotional package, we complain and make light of it and its need for awareness and a solution.

People are suffering and dying from Ebola. Just because that suffering seems far away, doesn’t make it any less significant.


This is a guest post from my oldest daughter, Meredith. I begged her to let me post it. 

The Colonel’s First Story, pt. 4

We have nearly come to the end of Colonel Birdwhistle’s first story from the book.  Click here to start at the beginning: Part 1 .

And now, I submit to you Part 4:

“An excellent question,” replied the Colonel.  “We used local ingenuity, my dear.  Local ingenuity.  You see, the people there have been trapping monkeys for hundreds of years.  The monkey is a clever animal, but he is more selfish than he is clever.  He can figure out how to get his hand on something to steal, but once he has it in that hand, he won’t ever let go until it is his.  So we tied several crates to the top of our cart, each with a freshly cut mango inside.  Then we made holes in them just large enough so that monkey hands would fit in but the mango wouldn’t come out.  On our trip, the monkeys descended on our cart and smelled the mangos.  They fought over which ones got to stick their little hands inside to grab those fresh mangos.  When we stopped the cart, the monkeys scattered — all except the ones with their hands stuck in the crate, too greedy to let go.  So, we would untie those crates with monkeys attached and give them to the locals to…to take away… and relocate.”400px-Vervet_yawn

He held up a hand again and pointed at it adding, “So the very thing that they cause trouble with gets them into trouble, too.”

“Did you get rid of all the monkeys in Africa, sir?” asked a boy with bright red hair and a nose generously sprinkled with freckles.

“No, young fellow,” laughed the Colonel.  Then he pointed at the large tree behind him.

“You see this tree.  It has squirrels in it right?” he said to general agreement.  “If I were to take the squirrel family that lived there away, another family that lived say, over there in that smaller tree would look at it and say, ‘that’s a nice tree and there are no squirrels living in it.  I’ll bet it has lots of nuts.  We should go live there.’ And they would.  So you would never have an attractive tree like this with no squirrels, right?”

The audience bobbled their heads as if they understood.

“It is, unfortunately, the same with monkeys,” said the Colonel.  “We removed as many as we could, and by the time the next ship came in, there were at least as many monkeys there as there had been before.  And they were stealing from us again.  To them, our supplies were just like that nice big tree the squirrel family wanted.  So they came in droves with their cute little hands and chit-chit noises and robbed us blind.”

He finished his story by slapping his knees to add emphasis and the children laughed.  The mothers behind them clapped their approval, and the Colonel couldn’t suppress a “dreadful vermin,” muttered under his breath.

Conclusion coming soon

Virgil Creech

Vervet Monkey photo credit: Whit Welles