My husband was hospitalized last month with pneumonia. He had gone to work as usual but hadn’t slept well the night before and was feeling really unwell. In spite of my insistence that I call our son-in-law to take him to the hospital (women can’t drive here), he told me that he would go to the university clinic and see a doctor there. When his colleagues saw his condition, they bundled him into a car and took him straight to the university hospital.

There had been a disastrous and unprecedented flood three days previously, and no one was completely aware of the extent of the devastation. The university hospital was closed because the lower floors were flooded and none of the machinery was working. Although both he and I (he as a staff member of the university and I as his dependant) are guaranteed free care at the university hospital, that was no longer possible. His friends took him to what may be the best private hospital in the city and no one was thinking about cost at that time. We have no health insurance at all because of the university hospital guarantee.

Days passed with my husband in critical condition, and my daughter briefly mentioned the possibility of transferring to another, less expensive, hospital, but that was out of the question. We stayed there and prayed for his full recovery and watched over him like hawks. Paying the hospital bills was the furthest thing from our minds.

There was a steady stream of visitors. My husband’s students were coming, sometimes six at a time, and colleagues and friends were coming every day. Some colleagues came not just every day but often twice a day. Not one visitor came empty-handed, and the room became so full of flowers and candy and dates and potted plants that my daughter and I had to bring some of them home in order to clear spaces for hospital equipment.

Masha Allah, these visitors were so generous with their time and gifts, as if they had nothing else in the world to do except sit with my husband and pray for him and entertain him and shop for the best dates and chocolates and flowers for him. Some of the men were working on flood-damage cleanup and came to the hospital after 18-hour workdays. Jazahum Allah khairan katheeran. May Allah give them the best of rewards.

Finally, after eleven days in the hospital, my husband was well enough to be discharged, alhamdulillah, although he could barely take a few steps without sitting down and was eating only applesauce and watery oatmeal. He had lost more than 22 pounds in those eleven days. I had brought our credit card to the hospital, but I still had no idea how I might pay because the bill was sure to be far, far more than was in our bank account. I thought that I might just hand over the card to the discharge office and tell them to withdraw my husband’s entire salary every month until the bill was paid. How we would live in the meantime was beyond me. My husband was still too sick for me to bother him with this matter.

When the doctor said that we could leave, I called the discharge office and asked if I could come down and talk about payment. The lady there said that the discharge papers weren’t quite complete and she would call me shortly. In a short time, she called me back and told me that we were now free to leave. I said that there was the small matter of payment. And then she dropped a bombshell. Our bill had been paid in full by A.M.; one of my husband’s former students who is now a colleague at the university and who had visited twice a day during those long eleven days and had come with cakes and hot milk and potted plants and had sat and talked and talked and entertained his teacher.

Subhan Allah. We have never in our lives witnessed such generosity. I was so stunned that I began sobbing and could hardly get the words out to tell my husband what I was crying about. May Allah bless this good friend and give him the best of rewards and a place in the highest level of Jannah. Jazahu Allah khairan katheeran.

Susan Akyurt

Susan Akyurt has lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her husband for the last 31 years. She has four daughters, one living near her in Jeddah and three living in the DC metropolitan area. She loves reading, writing and corresponding with her family.

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