Swollen little bellies, red infected eyes, tangled hair a nest for lice. A mother’s pleading, her voice breaking and eyes meeting mine. Tiny hands reach for my stethoscope as I listen for the familiar rhythm of life. Struggling to find hope in a world of pain, suffering, loss and death. Beautiful young mouths already scarred by decaying teeth. Heads full of bright dreams, a future so many will never see. Their cries pierce my conscience and forever become a part of me. Through their brokenness I see inside myself and I find purpose. Contentment, joy, peace and fulfillment flood my senses and heal my soul. Their need strengthens my hands, sharpens my mind, softens my heart, and sings to my soul a lullaby.

I wrote this as a medical student during a one month rotation in Guatemala. It reminds me of why I became a doctor, helps center me when I feel worn down. It reminds me to be thankful that I had the chance to achieve my dreams and the good fortune to live in a healthy and safe environment. I hope it touches your heart like they touched mine.