Five and half years before Marco’s birth.
Phoibe is crouched down near a small plaque marking the burial plot where her and Kallias previous children are buried. Her hand touches each engraved name.
The first child she bore a girl, Tasia, was felled by chicken pox at age four and her second child a boy, Andreas, was a stillbirth. Only Agalia fourteen years old, and her brother Elias, sixteen, seemed destined to live well into adulthood then suddenly they too were snatched from her and Kallias, both children felled by consumption.
Phoibe thought for sure doing preventive actions, taught to her by kindly Dr. Floros, would surely keep her children safe and free from catching a deadly disease. She washed fruits and vegetables with soap and water and cooked food thoroughly even warming milk and water for drinking. Most importantly Phoibe instilled in each of her children the importance of personal hygiene including washing their hands when necessary. Yet despite her efforts and those of the doctor it was not enough. All that effort, all that precaution failed.
Now pregnant with her fifth child, she comes to the single burial site to pull weeds and to replace the dead flowers from her previous visit. Phoibe is all to aware this child will be her and Kallia’s last child to be born. She knows her advancing age will soon prevent pregnancy from being possible. Please God, she whispers out loud in prayer, Please let him or her be healthy and stay healthy. I beg you let Kallia and I have one child that survives us, please, please.
Four years later Phoibe has the wind knocked out of her as she falls to her knees beside her son Marcos whose body is twisted at the waist away from his mother. His coughs are wet and hard between gasps for air. Her eyes grow large and her mouth opens in a silent scream as she sees the tale ,tale signs of consumption erupt in a spray from her baby boy’s mouth, blood.