Thanks to my cousin's husband for sending me the link to this column: Blue Haiti.
As I sit studying (or attempting to) on a beautiful fall day in the spectacular Seattle Public Library, "Blue Haiti" seems so far away. The column breaks my heart, especially when it mentions the Caribbean Market Molly and I shopped at and I bought gnocchi that I was minutes away from cooking when the earthquake started. Minutes before everything - for Molly, her family, for myself, for Haiti - changed forever.
But more than making me sad, reading the column makes me afraid. Afraid to hear everyone's stories about "Goudou Goudou." Afraid to see how little progress has been made. Afraid to see the suffering. But more than anything, I am so so fearful of what I hope is not inevitable: numbness.
My short time in Haiti, now over 9 months ago, was dominated by a detached - almost numb - feeling. I couldn't open my heart completely since I knew I had to return home to normal life. I envied Molly's investment in the children she knew she had a year with. I didn't anticipate the event that kept my heart tied to Haiti in a more powerful (but still incomplete) way, but I am scared that during my trip back, I won't be able to shake my past and current self-preservation mode. I feel that I have to keep a safe emotional distance from some of the suffering just to survive daily life away from Haiti. If I were to stay in Haiti, I know I could do better; be better. I could open myself to the people I meet knowing that I have time to spend there and that I didn't have to come back to the states where I am forced to pretend; to push Haiti to the back of my mind while I focus on school and friendships burdened by my inability to relate to others and discuss other "normal" things.
Needless to say, as the people in my life inevitably (and blamelessly and expectedly) move their focus away from my experience and Haiti in general, it has become more and more difficult to relate, to feel normal, and to invest in improving my relationships here.
Haiti certainly isn't - and cannot - "move on" from the earthquake. I have given up expecting myself to, although I know that I cannot resent those who encourage me to do so. I will not abandon Haiti, but I know there is a balance that I have yet to find that will allow me to live life fully in Haiti and elsewhere. I am praying that I am able to fully open up to what I experience upon my return to Haiti, and I am strengthened and encouraged by my travel partners who will help me to do both: truly feel while I am in Haiti and subsequently transition back to normal life in the States.
And I am also strengthened and encouraged by family members who have Haiti in their minds and send me columns, even if they are difficult to read.