Where is Maria?

During the journey of life things happen, experiences unfold and in the light of these experiences many thing just seems so cruel and unfair. Today was one of those instances.

From the first time I came to live in Skalitsa, one family have always been there to just a degree it feels that I have become part of their family. Sasho, the man of the house has been adopted celebratory ‘brother’ for two years now and quite often we are in each others’ houses to the early hours I the morning. All the things I have learnt about village life and country living, has been given to me by Sasho and Rosa his school-teaching wife. I have lost count how many times we have been helped out by this family.

Two years ago Rosa father passed away and this was a very sad occasion but acceptable as he had a good life and was of the age were many Bulgarian males do pass over to the other side. I saw him the day before he died and this sight has stuck with me ever since. The sight of someone who you know will not be in this world for much longer just brings to the front what is important in this life and how humble it makes you thinking that the problems you have matter.

Part of the family live in Ovchi Kladinets the nearest neighbouring village from Skalitsa. Maria, Sasho’s sister and her husband Mitko live there. From the very first day I met Maria (and I have written an account of this) there was a deep affection and total joy in her being around. Everyone has the same opinion of her – she is the kindest, generous and more sincere person that you could ever meet.

Many times we have visited her in Ovchi Kladinets and treated like close family. There has never been a time that we have left without a boot full of garden produce and a big slobby kiss goodbye.

Maria is as big as her personality, loud, brash, unassuming, speaking her mind at all times. She has a very open based sense of humour, which crosses many subject boundaries and she has no scruples about anything. Without Maria this world would be a much poorer place and never at any point did anyone ever conceive that she wouldn’t be here. This is where the totally inconsideration of fairness in this world strikes.

On our return to Skalitsa, Rosa brought the shocking news that Maria was very ill and didn’t have any chance of recovery. We couldn’t believe that this woman, the life and soul of Bulgaria and the same age as me could ever have got this way.

We offered to take Sasho and Rosa to the village as they didn’t have any transport although we did dither as Maria would get out of her death bed to cater for us and we didn’t want to stress here further. But we decided to go as we may not see her ever again.

On arrival we went in and I just didn’t know that that was Maria sitting on the bed. It looked nothing like her. She had lost so much weight that she was unrecognisable. Her bubbly forceful talking tone had diminished into a whimper as we greeted her. Everyone was in tears as the full impact of her illness became a reality before our very eyes.

The next hour or so was painful for everyone, as we knew that this is probably the last time we see her. I won’t go into detail about her illness, as it is complex and not something that should be broadcast.

We left with this picture in our heads of a woman who had been in our hearts and head for so long transformed into a woman just clinging on to life. How cruel can life be?

This again makes us feel so guilty about anything and everything we complain about, how insignificant these problems are compared to what we see before us. Why is it that the good people of this earth are destine to leave it early and the evil remain? If there is a God why does he play cruel games all the time?

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