The Jan. 12 earthquake will mar and mark us for decades to come. Never in my lifetime have I seen such an incident mobilize the world in such a fashion. Though it has been three weeks, Haitian Diaspora is still reeling in complete confusion. The feeling of loss lingers, hanging over our heads like a dark cloud.
Even worse, we cannot mourn in the way we are accustomed. This earthquake did not allow us to go to our homeland and grieve. It did not allow us that time to really process and come to terms. So for some, that feeling of devastation is heightened, while for others, because Haiti and the things we are seeing on TV are so far away, there is still a surreal element to it.
In the midst of all these feelings of confusion, a friend wrote me, asking, “Is it ok to celebrate and party?” I understood what he meant immediately. I’d planned a dinner party at my home as a way to welcome the New Year, but I considered cancelling it immediately upon finding out about the earthquake.
But, as the days moved on, many of my guests begged for the dinner. “We need the distraction” was the cry. Many wanted to step out, to run away from the images on television. I understood their point and went ahead with the low-key dinner.
But what about the dancing, bals, and those type of events?
Recently a promoter friend of mine called wondering if he should move forward with a party he had planned for April. I could not answer him. Financially, I do not know how the community is doing.
The Diaspora always had the task of caring for back home, but now that task is tenfold because it is not simply about our direct family, it’s about rebuilding a nation.
But beyond the financial element, I could not comment on the social etiquette aspect either. I don’t mourn like other people do, so I can never assess the length of time that is appropriate. I come to terms quite quickly and then I go on with life. But I understand not everyone functions that way.
Musicians, DJ’s, promoters, caterers and others make their living from people partying. So the longer people stay away from those activities, the more that community suffers.
Going back to how long before we get back to normal. Well, things should never go back to normal. I hope not, anyway. Haiti must remain a priority and in our sights.
As far as our social activities, I say, whenever you feel ready. Honestly, on the January 31st, after one of my cooking parties, a group of us went out to bid farewell to one friend moving to Korea.
After dining and chatting, we all got on the dance floor and had a wonderful time. Does that mean we forgot about Haiti’s pain and what’s going on? No, not at all.
Ironically enough, feelings of joy and sadness can co-exist. My advice for when in moments of sadness is to surround yourself with those things that can uplift your spirit. If that means stepping on the dance floor to ‘shake what yo’ mama gave you,’ then do it!
Nadege Fleurimond is the author of a “Taste of Life: A Culinary Memoir” and the owner of Fleurimond Catering, Inc. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.