Sunday, January 31, 2010

A new life

I used to have a life. It is gone. Can you imagine that? Everything that you knew, everything that made up your day – gone. Now, I have a new life, but it does not resemble my old life.

I used to have a job, several jobs actually. They are gone, buildings disappeared into piles of rubble and patients disappeared to the countryside. Now, I have a new job, but it does not resemble my old job.

I used to have friends. They are gone: dead, injured, or evacuated. Now, I have new friends, friends that I love, but they do not resemble my old friends.

I used to have a home. It’s gone, replaced by a dormitory for relief workers and a storage room constantly filling and emptying. I have a home, but it does not resemble my old home.

I used to have a community. It is gone, shattered by death, fear, forced evacuation, and insecurity. Now, I have a new community, made of amazing neighbors and little children, but it does not resemble my old community.

My new life is strange. It is different. It is not what I expected my life to look like as a 24 year old single white woman alone in Haiti. Yet, for all its strangeness, this new life is a good one. I am more connected to the community of Delmas 91 than I would ever have become had the quake not occurred. My new friends are people that I would never have befriended had the quake not occurred. My new job and my new home, as hectic as they are, fit me, my experiences and my personality.

I am still reeling from the emotional and spiritual toll of all that I have seen and done in the past 3 weeks. There is so much to process and so much to forget. Some things are a total blur; others are branded into my memory and will always be there. I wish I could forget them.

A dump truck full of corpses driving past me. The sinking feeling in my stomach when I looked at that woman with crushed legs and told the men to cover her back up, there was nothing I could do for her. Standing at the edge of a massive refugee camp and feeling too exhausted to treat a single patient. The smell of rotting bodies emanating from collapsed buildings. Lying on a pad on the floor as the building shook from aftershocks and assuring Bill that everything would be OK even though my heart was beating a mile a minute. The panicked screams on the streets of Delmas and the cloud of dust that cloaked the city. Watching TiPatrick shiver and thinking, “He’s going to die tonight because I was not more experienced.” The look of death on a little boy’s face after he was rescued from his home only to die 10 minutes later in his mother’s arms. My bloody hands at dawn after that never-ending first night.

It happened. An earthquake hit Haiti and my life vanished. But I am alive. I am unharmed. And I have work to do. Lots of work to do. So I embrace this new life and step forward, one dusty, tired step at a time.


Emma said...


Thank you for making me sob. You are an inspiration to me, and everyone around me. I have my whole class reading your blog. You are constantly in my prayers. May God be your strength now, and always.


Anonymous said...

Dear Kez,
"A New Life" is so beautifully written. Your memoirs of this tragedy will be an inspiration to many for years to come.
God Bless, continue your good work and be sure to take care of yourself.
Remember..CE is on the way to Chop Point.
Carol T

Katie K. said...

I do not know you, but I am your friend. I cry everytime I read your blog and then feel guilty because you don't have the time or energy to cry. I sit here in Michigan with everything I need, and more, and more and more. I wish I could say something to help you and your new friends. I will give what I can give, pray all the time, and never forget. You have witnessed things in your short life that most of us will never have to endure. And I understand that your concern isn't for yourself but for the people, the children. I hope I get to meet you someday and thank you for reminding me of how I want to live. I want my children to be like you when they grow up. To serve mankind is a priviledge and an obligation. God bless you and your group in Haiti!!

Katie said...

kez, i am so happy to see you are alive. not only are you alive, but you are helping so many people! i know we haven't talked in a long time, but i want you to know you have been in my prayers the past couple weeks and i am sending as much help as i can your way and have been encouraging my friends to do so too. i honestly don't know what to say; i am so proud of you. and scared. please remember to take care of yourself too.
-katie kazmer

Connecting Stories said...

Thanks for relating the essence of your experience so beautifully with words that both sear the soul and motivate. The more we understand the human need in Haiti, the better. The clearer it is that we must do more to give you and the people of Haiti the tools you need to do your work.

ange said...

praying for you Kez!
ange and gang

Chops said...

Wow, Kez. I'm reposting your poetic opening paragraphs on my blog.

Nicole said...

Good job Kez! Thank you for being such a willing worker. I know you have a lot of work to do, but I really appreciate that you take the time to write down and share part of your story with the rest of us.
It is impossible for us comfty first-class Americans to begin to comprehend what you have gone through in the past 3 weeks, but I am thankful that I can read your stories and see your pictures. Just the glimpses I get into your world makes my heart shudder.
I thought you were a little crazy, choosing to be a 24 year old single white girl in Haiti, but I am certain that God has a great purpose for you. And I know that you are in His hands. So keep up the good work.

Christina Falzon said...


I am sitting at work on my lunch break and this post brought tears to my eyes and down my cheeks. I am praying for your emotions, for your kids, for your new country, you are in my thoughts often.


Anonymous said...

Oh Kez, I keep thinking back to January 13th when Marc and I came by to see you and make sure you were okay. You are so strong and so full of compassion. I have no doubt that God is uplifting you by His great hand. He is there w/you always. I am praying for you, dear sister. I look forward to the day when we will meet again. And I look forward to the day when Haiti will rise again. Mwen renmen Ayiti. And it is overwhelmingly evident you do too!

In Christ,

(Marc is back in Haiti!)