AQ 7 - 02.2.10

An analogy:
I went to my orthopedic doctor again yesterday. He reexamined my leg & started me on some leg strengthening exercises. “At this point hurting is okay,” he said. He was referring to the kind of hurting that occurs with the rebuilding of leg tissue. I think of Haiti. Hurting is not okay until you find its source & determine if further pain will cause further damage or aid in the healing process….

During the night of the earthquake we three girls stayed on the driveway of a Canadian couple. Their house had just been renovated. It now had cracks throughout, so we did not enter. The couple pulled a rug off of the side porch along with cushions & two blankets. We five lay listening to & feeling the continuing tremors. (There have been over 50.) I was shaking so badly from pain that I only knew the difference between me & the aftershocks by the fact that more buildings collapsed with each aftershock. More screams. More wailing. Pria knew everyone was losing their houses. She didn’t know that many were also dying.

I whispered to the girls things I loved about them & joked about other things, like the concrete I had emptied from the top of my blouse. We all had white hair from the dust, & Dawn decided it was time to color my hair. Then we were finished talking. Every thought, every thought was connected to a person & a memory. And, since I didn’t know our future or that of others, there was nothing safe to say or think. There was a 50-50 chance our group of seven would survive. I would hold on tothat hope, that prayer, though I knew how much could happen in thirty seconds.

I tried not to think about all the ramifications of an earthquake. But, when you’re lying on the ground all night, & the foundations of the city have been removed, rats have to find a place to go, & fire ants surface from deep within the ground. Fortunately we had a guard or a big dog by our sides each of the three nights before we were evacuated. We were thankful, too, that there was no rain.

That first morning, the Canadian nurse returned to check on us. He also said the roads across town were impassable & his team wasn’t able to get word to the American Embassy that the three of us were still alive. They hadn’t found the World Vision building, either. I didn’t know if that was because the building was no longer standing or because they had no idea where it was. My heart sank. Though the night was terrifying, I wasn’t ready to meet the morning. The girls didn’t know any of my thoughts.

With the nurse came a small Canadian convoy. They decided to band together where we had stayed. Two cats in cat carriers, a few boxes of chocolate, decks of cards & a case of water were stacked on the driveway. While the gates were still open a car passed by. It happened to be the woman who lived on our floor, a US Embassy employee. She backed up & jumped out of the car. She hadn’t been in the apt. when it collapsed. She was rounding up Americans now to caravan to the US Embassy which was still standing. “Frank’s been looking for you. We’ve all been looking for you.” It’s the first time I cried. So Frank was alive, but she said nothing about Trevor, Mike & Angie. She didn’t know that I needed to know.

Dominique gave me his loafers since my feet were too swollen to fit in anything else. We said our goodbyes & left in the car. I still don’t know where we had been or how we got to Frank’s office. None of the streets looked familiar anymore. Walls & houses had tumbled across roads, & cars were making new paths around the rubble.

Frank’s office was standing, but the atmosphere was too somber. It was a time of reuniting – for us. But for others there had already been many hours of mourning, & Frank was among the mourners. After the earthquake he went straight to our apt. He thought he’d find it standing, like his office, but it had been flattened. He & neighbors looked for us & called to us. When there was no response from us he left the site & searched for Trevor, Mike & Angie across town. The orphanage was standing & Mike & Angie stayed to comfort the children there. Our pastor & his son took Frank & Trevor to their house on the mountain above Mourn Calvaire. They stayed by Frank & Trevor through the night as phone calls were made & they talked about digging us out of the rubble in the morning light. At the first signs of light the four men headed down the mountain & returned to the World Vision office for tools. That’s when we arrived.

People started yelling for Frank & Trevor. Neither of them responded to the yelling. They were responding to something from deep within that said they had a task to do. Trevor came from around the side of the building, emotionless, tools in hands. “Put the tools down, Trevor,” I said. He didn’t put them down. He just stared at me. “Put the tools down, son. We’re all here.”

The girls & I had spent a night full of hope. There had been a 50/50% chance that the rest of the family was alive out there somewhere. When we saw the men, it was a prayer come true, & a time of rejoicing. But, the men had spent a much different night, one of despair & decisions. At some point Frank had known he would have to report something to our families in the US, once he could make a phone connection. And at one point he did, “It doesn’t look good,” he told our families. And, so, the morning after the earthquake we were met by two, downcast men who’s souls needed to be awaken to the truth, that we were still a family of five. A new life truly began for the five of us on January, 13, 2010.


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