Haiti

Oh words, please come to me; I’m suffocating under you.


Last night at midnight I returned back home from Haiti. It’s all reversed though, I now know. Home is a place inside of you that is carried with you; a place that travels the same roads as you, storing up all the pieces that resemble it. Home.


We left to go to Haiti at 4am, as usual, and I dragged my feet the whole time. I stood outside Levi’s doorway with my palm pressed again his door, tears wetting my purple shirt, my body weak from sadness. I did not want to leave him. So why was I? I couldn’t have told you then what I now know.


Levi came to me in a storm. I spent this past week retracing my steps, remembering, and accepting. God sent me so many moments, so many people, to give me balance again. To give me strength.


I knew I was home when I fell into Mary Francine’s arms in the airport, a woman I only met once, two years ago, but whose soul settled deep into mine.


I knew I was home when I spun through Mother Teresa’s Hospital, feeding baby after baby, talking absurd Creole baby talk, my mind set on the goal of giving, rather than dwelling.


I knew I was home when Franceska wrapped her body around mine and didn’t untangle from me until six days later. Everywhere I was she was, her hand pulling my shirt, her fingers locked with mine, her head leaning on my back as I talked. Franceska, my girl.


I knew I was home when my legs burst through the empty river beds, climbed the dustiest paths to hidden homes, a power running through me like electricity.


I knew I was home when I prayed. At every house we stopped my tongue would unravel the Creole words, soft and timid but thick as honey, prayers.


This trip was significant for me. I connected the dots, I received answers for some of my ‘whys.’ Driving home from mission one night, Joe, Katie and me in the front of the Canter, as we have been a thousand times before, I felt my soul lurch. We were crossing the river and the water rolled over the rocks in the same way my blood was moving through me; harsh and fast and determined. All at once I forgot I didn’t live there anymore, that these mountains weren’t my capturer anymore. And in the same heartbeat I wanted it all back, all back but with my little one among it all.


The weight of my sin was crushing this trip.


But the glory of the Lord was, is, always triumphant.


I was blessed enough to spend the week with men and women who inspire me. Men who are strong and kind and good. So good. Men who give me hope for the future, excitement even. And women who have carried life with them in the most fragile ways, and have come out only braver. Women who have opened their arms full heartedly and challenged, begged, the Lord to overwhelm them, to smash them with His mercy and majesty and grace. Women who have let themselves be destroyed, their trust in God blindly leading them.


Walking the halls of the place I called home for five years, knowing that after six short days I’d be leaving again, returning to my little world of unknown, knives were continuously piercing into me. But these holes, these wounds, they cleared out space. They drained me of the things I was holding there instead: fear, insecurity, shame, until finally I was simply just able to breathe. Light enough that maybe I will just float away.


On our last night there Kendy snapped, and clutching his chest in agony he screamed out my name, over and over and over again. Eventually I had to walk away, his love for me, another person who left him, too terrible inside of me. When it was quiet Franceska came upstairs to me, her laughing spilling out from behind her hand that covered her mouth. She unfolds onto my bed, telling me Jean Marc, no more than six years old, did a deliverance prayer for Kendy and that he’s asleep now. Then it was my turn to laugh, imagining the loud preacher like style of Jean Marc, entirely sarcastic but comforting for Kendy nonetheless. These children, they were meant for each other. They are a pack of wolves for each other that no one would want to cross. They are so, so divinely loved. So far from forgotten. So belonging to the Kingdom of heaven.


I had to go back to Haiti on my own to remember why I had been there in the first place. That it wasn’t all in vain. That I had been called, and that for a while, it was good. That my heart is still capable of serving. That I can still make new connections, have new ideas. That I can still be seen. I had to go back on my own to be emptied, to long so brutally for my son that I wanted to just give up. I had to go back to lose myself again, only to realize I’ve already been found.


On the plane ride home I sat next to a little old lady, probably in her late 70’s, traveling to America for the first time. It was her first time ever on a plane. Her whole body was shaking. I buckled her in and talked her through the first hour, telling her maybe 100 times that planes simply just shake. She was precious with big brown eyes and a tan suit on. Every twenty minutes she’d ask me if we were there yet, and, after one of these times, it hit me. How wonderful, how life never stops being a thrill. I bet she never imagined she’d be on a plane, going to visit her sister, after all this time. I sat there and cried, so overwhelmed by how good it all can be, if we only embrace it.


Today was my first day of real single motherhood. Levi and I went to mass together, just the two of us, and actually stood in the corner of the main church instead of the children’s room. Levi clung to me, his little fingers never leaving mine, his mouth silent, as if he knew where we were. Every now and then he’d grab my face with both hands and just smile. He was comforting me, somehow. He was telling me it’s all going to be ok. Receiving Jesus with him in my arms, well it’s all full circle now. I’m home.


My life now and the life I lived in Haiti are trying to merge. I know they will, one day, and until then I am more determined than ever to not let any day pass me that is wasted. I’ll do my damn meds, I’ll keep these lungs working the best I can, and I’ll fight. I’ll fight for Levi, so that he can go on this adventure of life too. So that he can encounter Jesus day after day.


Haiti is gone. Michel is gone. Kendy and Franceska and Katie and everyone are gone. Mary Francine and Brian and Joann are gone. But I carry it all. And Levi, Levi is home.

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