The lost of a loved one is painful. It is hard to comprehend in the moment that it happened. No matter how much we prepare ourselves to the eventual passing of a loved one, something in us makes it feel as a dream, as if it did not really happen.
Over the week-end, I attended the funeral of loving cousin, who I grew up with in Haiti. An older cousin, who walked me to the church during my first communion, she attended the parent’s meeting at my school on behalf of my mother. She would feed me when I was little; overall we have had plenty of memories together, for me to be very sad of her passing. She has been suffering of pulmonary cancer for the last seven years, when finally she took her last breath.
When I got the text message from her brother informing of her passing, the first thought in my mind was no, this cannot be real. She was too young to be gone. We were too close for me to accept the fact that I would never be able to see her again. I asked questions about what would happen to her surviving son? Could she have lasted a little longer? Why did she even have to have cancer, when this is not something our family usually gets? For all these questions, I found very few answers.
At the funeral, the preacher in his eulogy evoked a thesis about death that gives all of us comfort to deal with the lost, but personally it makes me see another dimension of the Haitian struggle as a whole. The preacher talked about faith in the Lord, the afterlife that is awaiting us, among other things, but what resonates with me the most was the idea that death is a temporary reality. All of us will go through this temporary reality, but as long as we have faith, which is belief in the invisible, we will be able to overcome it.
Almost three months ago, Haiti suffered an event that was hard to accept as reality. For many of us outside of Haiti at the time, the news of the quake sounds more like a bad dream than anything else. Our attachment and love for Haiti did not help us dealing with the forceful destruction that was caused to our country. At the moment, we were staring a bleak and hopeless future. None of us wanted to think about the immediate future, for we felt powerless, and completely destroyed. We all forgot that as bad as the impact of the earthquake felt at the time, that it was only a temporary pain. For many, this temporary pain might last longer, but nonetheless, one way or another everyone would find a way to move on.
The first few days after the quake, it seems like the whole world stops to give a hand to my compatriots. The magnitude of the lost of lives made it seem as if death was something more than just a temporary reality. For many Haitians, death was becoming a permanent fixture. We heard of young children losing friends and family members on almost a daily basis. For a while, the tally kept on creeping up day after days. First, we heard it could be between 50-100,000 deaths, then it hover around 150,000, and finally after six weeks or so, most people settled on 220,000 to as much as 300,000 lost souls. This massive lost of lives in such a short time, and with a constant aftershock from the bigger quake, death was nothing but a reality that the Haitian people must get use to.
However, if for a moment, we all accept that all the struggle and misery that we are going through as a people is only a temporary reality, then we might be able to do something about changing these conditions. If we are able to have a faith in a national vision that can promise us of a future where the average citizen will get access to clean water, a decent education, a decent wage for services render, a respect for the rule of law, and more importantly a respect for life, then we might be able to see January 12th as a temporary reality.
If on the other hand, it is more of the same with no clear vision, where no one clearly distinguishes the starting line from the finish point, the conditions that have been embolden by the quake will not only become a permanent reality, but also run the risk of deteriorating with time.
When the preacher eloquently eulogized at my cousin’s funeral, and proclaimed that death is only a temporary reality as long as we allow ourselves to believe in the invisible, I could not stop thinking what that would mean if for once my fellow compatriots accept to believe in a better Haiti builds by Haitians on the premise of a future, which we cannot see today, but regardless agree to believe in it because of the faith we have in each other as brothers and sisters with common ancestors.
Indeed, all struggles, misery, poverty, and even death can truly be a temporary reality as long as we dedicate our lives to be a better human being with each passing day. If we conditioned our existence on the premise of becoming better citizens to our neighborhood, community, and country, then we would make stride in turning sorrow into joy, loss into gain, pity into humility, and yes a hopeless country into a prosperous nation, which can be built on the backbone of pride and human dignity.