Thanks for hanging with me you guys. I didn't realize when I started this that it would take this many installments to unpack everything. My goal is to finish by the time we reach part ten, but we'll have to see.
*Before I launch into this part of my story, there's something I should mention. For those of you who don't know about it, I've been working with an organization called Providence Ministries for the last 13 years. We set up a children's home called Providence House in southern Haiti to care for a few girls who were in desperate situations, and we also provide educational opportunities and work with established ministries in the area.*
Now, let's continue.
At some point in all of this, we made the decision to move Dave's mom to Alaska to be with his brother's family. His brother has extended family who all live near him and can help with his mom's care, and they've dealt with a family member with dementia before so they know what to expect. In fact, this was their suggestion in the first place. I won't lie to you: I was very relieved at this development. We just weren't able to care for her any more, and we knew she wouldn't want to go into a sheltered living situation. So, in January we were very busy making preparations for her departure on the 16th. Dave and his sister were going to accompany her and stay for a few days to get her settled in.
But first came January 12th.
Around suppertime I got a phone call from my dad. "Did you hear about the earthquake in Haiti?" I had no idea how to respond. I was used to hearing about hurricanes and mudslides and riots and kidnapping, but earthquakes? I thought it must be a mistake. "Where in Haiti, Dad?" I asked. He said he thought it was just outside of Port au Prince and it was a big one. I told him that I'd call him back, and as soon as I hung up I called my friend Marcia. She had just heard about it too, but she didn't know anything more than I did. We didn't say it at the time, but we were both very scared.
For the next several days we watched CNN non-stop and tried to get through to our friends. Providence House is located 120 miles from Port au Prince, a fairly safe distance, but we weren't just worried about the direct effects of the earthquake. Haiti is very centralized and extremely poor. Something like this hitting the capital city would have dramatic consequences for the whole country. So we waited and prayed. It was torture. We watched the video footage of decimated homes and trapped children, and we barely spoke a word. We finally got a brief phone call from one of the girls and learned that they were all OK and the house was still standing, but they were terrified. I'm not sure I've ever felt so helpless.
I've lost count of the number of times I've traveled to Haiti in the last thirteen years. I was standing just outside the palace a year ago in April, and now that majestic landmark is just a pile of concrete. I've shopped dozens of times at the Caribbean Market that was the scene of so much death (and a few dramatic rescues, thank God.) As the camera panned the streets, I searched for something I could recognize, but this was a wasteland that was not at all familiar to me. I grieved over and over again for my friends who would never be the same, and the unimaginable suffering of so many. This changed everything. We continued to get Lorraine packed, but our hearts were all over the place. Suddenly everything I had been preoccupied with over the last many months seemed utterly trivial.
The really weird part of all this is that my health started to improve almost immediately after the news of the earthquake hit. I suppose it could have had something to do with the relief of my mother-in-law moving away. As much as we love her it lifted an enormous burden when her care was transferred to others (although we're still sifting through the tangled knot of her finances and her belongings). Nevertheless, I think the earthquake somehow reset my body and my mind. I remembered that there are more important concerns than the ones I had been immersed in for so long. I remembered that I am incredibly fortunate. I remembered (and maybe even discovered to some degree) my values.
I had an opportunity to get on the Comfort hospital ship, but that ended up falling through. I was really disappointed about that, but it got me moving in a particular direction. My leave of absence was running out, and I knew I wasn't ready to go back. Even more important though, was the growing suspicion that i wasn't supposed to go back. Ever. That part of my life was over. Something new was emerging from the wreckage of my life.
So I quit my job.
*big gulping breath*