Missing

Someone once told me that a great way to measure how much we love is by how much we miss.


Father Louis Merosne.


I met Louis the day I moved into Franciscan University college. He was the resident director of my dorm, a total of 16 girls. My mom noticed him first, and with a nudge in my side she said to me, “look at that stunningly handsome black man!”


When my mom asked him where he was from and he proudly said Haiti, i beamed back that i had just recently been there. He looked at me and said, with his accent that he claims isn’t an accent, “Why would you do THAT?”


That night he gave away a prize to whichever girl had been to Haiti, knowing it was only me. From then on he called me his Haitian sister.


I woud lie in my bed at night and listen to him play the drum through the walls of my dorm room, the songs rising up with a desperateness lined with hope. I would trace my finger across the cracked paint and feel something I could only describe as longing.


Louis, somehow, became my person. He saw me; wide eyed and open hearted. If I was in the hospital he would be right by my bed reading his thesis to what he believed was a sleeping me. He’d bring food to me in the middle of the night when I would bang on his door, starving. He received my ignorance with clarity, my immaturity with patience, and my rudeness with respect.


Once when we were driving through a toll booth coming home from a Sean Forrest event, as I handed him the ticket and exact change he looked at me and said, “You are going to make a great wife.”


“What would make you say that?” I asked.


“Because you care for people. You care for them the way they want to be cared for. Now all we need is a toll booth in Haiti.”


After college I moved in with Louis’ aunt and uncle in Boston. We did everything Haitian in preparation for me moving there. Prayer meetings, youth groups, adoration, Haitian choirs, you name it. We’d spend all day cleaning and speaking Creole then by 10pm go to IHOP for some much needed breakfast. When the cat there became too much for me, we moved down to my family’s home in Ct, putting Louis closer to Sean Forrest for their new Mission Haiti plans, and me close to Louis still to work on my Creole.


These were my sickest days, and Louis was there for every minute of it. I’d roll over in my sleep to him in my room, praying over me, checking to see if I was still breathing.

One winter night, during a heavy snowfall, Louis decided he needed to go to mass. It was tuesday evening, and walking had become difficult for me, so I passed on his invitation. He started to mock me in his loving way, referring to how spectacularly holy he was and how one day he knows I’ll catch up. The look on his face was enough to drag me out of the house into the cold.


As we pulled in front of the church, the street lights illuminating the thick snow falling from the sky, Louis fiddled with something in his pocket. I began to cross the slippery street, slowly, carefully, when all of a sudden Louis came up from behind and tackled me. I fell face first into the snow covered street, an icy chill filling my lungs, when I looked up to see him slyly entering the church, his laugh echoing throughout the deserted street. I sat there in the best kind of disbelief. Louis taught me so much in that tiny moment; that life cannot be taken seriously, because it’s temporary, that our bodies are just vessels, and it’s ok to be sick, and that if we are laughing it means we’re alive.


I cannot believe I actually miss him singing the last sentence I say.


When the earthquake hit our little village in Haiti, and my entire world was upside down and a mess, I wished every moment that Louis was beside me. Sturdy and knowing, like he always is, even if he’s a wreck inside too. I had been living in Haiti for a year, the first half of it with Louis there, teaching me and nudging me forward, then letting me go on my own. Sean had called Louis in his Boston home and told him to sit down. Louis thought he was joking, but soon realized, with Sean’s new of the earthquake, that he was not.


It was weeks after the earthquake that Louis walked through the gates of our orphanage, a sight I was too overwhelmed to see. We had been sleeping outside in tents, and when I heard the sounds of a car pulling up I peaked my head out to see who it could be. Finally, after holding my breath since the aftermath of it all, walking on shaky ground and uncertain if I’d ever find my balance again, Louis, familiar as ever, arrived. I remember so clearly taking a breath; the deepest, longest breath since the earthquake. Finally I felt safe again.


I spent 5 years in Haiti, and Louis became Father Louis during this time. He is a father to all people now, more so than before, since his soul is now new with his vocation. For so long it felt like he slipped away from me, but he was always there, silent and strong and willing to fight for me, the same father he had been since the moment I met him.

I hadn’t seen Louis in ten months until this past weekend, hadn’t spoken to him either. Michel opened the door first to come in the house, and from behind him I heard Father telling him to be aware of our dog Marley, to make sure he didn’t get out. From where I was sitting tears filled my eyes and spilled over onto Levi. I moved Levi closer to me and whispered, “there’s your uncle Father Louis, and he remembers. He remembers everything.”


Father came right over and took Levi from me. I said a silent prayer that Levi’s long big hands, just like his uncle’s, will also be hands that bless.


I had disappointed Father. I had crushed him, I believe, with my unfaithful to God’s will. But he took me back, like always, because he spends his life imitating Christ. Father Louis shined the biggest light on Levi’s life; that with God, anything is possible. Full redemption. Full healing. And a life even better than what should or could have been.


I spent all weekend missing Father Louis. Staring right at him, missing him. I guess this just confirms my love for such a wonderful man.


This Sunday morning, I am thankful for Father Louis Merosne.

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