Five Years.

Five years. Five.

Five feels important. Fifth anniversaries have more significance than the four prior. Five is a full hands-worth. Five feels big.

Five years ago I was trapped under a building and rescued by strangers, delivered to an embassy, and doted on by USAID employees and an American doctor who stitched me up. My broken arm was splinted and stabilized. I slept, although briefly and fitfully, under an intact roof in an exam chair in a clinic room in an air conditioned building. I was evacuated in a military helicopter and tended to by trained medical staff. I was reunited with my mother. I was held and loved and cried over.

Five years ago, the rest of Haiti, without access to seismic retrofitting and suture kits and CT scanners and iodine and American citizenship, wandered through broken streets and braced for aftershocks. The rest of Haiti pulled loved ones and strangers from the wreckage, or listened desperately to those under piles too massive for human strength. The rest of Haiti piled into trucks or limped toward destroyed hospitals and clinics and waited in line and grasped for handouts and waited and waited. The rest of Haiti mourned and sang together. The rest of Haiti had their lives taken, their loved ones gone. The rest of Haiti saw their leader wander aimlessly, his palace destroyed. The rest of Haiti stepped over their neighbors' bodies and tried to call their families and brushed off dust and stood up, bracing for the next blow.

I do not deserve to write about Haiti but I cannot stop. I did not earn the right to be included in the outpouring of support on every earthquake anniversary but I cherish it anyways.

I explain the guilt away, I rationalize my survival. I do what I can do deserve the gratitude of those in Haiti who have very little to be thankful for. I wrote this op ed. And I support this work:


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