Sometimes I look at my life in Haiti, especially post-quake, and I wonder if certain people I interact with are really people. Maybe they're angels in disguise. Commander Strong, for example, who kept us supplied with baby formula and diapers and kept my spirits up. Lieutenant Campbell, who did not have to give food to anyone who was not part of his designated food drop list, but who gave me two truck loads despite that. The nursing student who appeared with a needle driver at midnight on the first night just as I ran out of large needle suture material and would not be able to keep stitching without one. A stranger who gave up her seat on the plane and insisted that it go to "the Haiti nurse" so that I made my connection to visit Bill.
When I flew out of Haiti, I met another of these random knights in shining armor. I was the only passenger on a private flight to Florida and the pilot, Christian, could have spent the whole time peppering me with earthquake questions, but as soon as he heard where I had been and why I was leaving, he gave me the silence I craved at that time. I'm sure he noticed that I spent most of the flight crying, but he didn't ask questions except to offer me food and water. When we arrived, he found out that I was planning to sleep in the airport lobby. He immediately made arrangements for me to stay in the pilot's lounge instead where I got to sleep in a real bed and take a hot shower. I remember climbing into bed and thinking, "I don't have to worry about aftershocks anymore." What a fantastic feeling.
For my return to Haiti, I needed to overnight in Florida. Again, I planned on the airport lobby until I remembered Christian. He met me at the airport and took me home to stay with his family. His wife and sister-in-law were waiting up for us and gave me a warm welcome and a comfy couch. In the morning, I met his sons, Ashton and Zach, and by the time I left, I felt like I'd been a lifelong family friend. Once we got to the airport, though, my charter flight to Haiti had been cancelled and it appeared that I would be forced to wait an extra 3 or 4 days in Florida. I was devastated, but Christian came through for me and arranged for me and 5 members of my medical team to fly to Haiti with his charter company. I was hugely grateful!
I wish I could show the photo of Christian's whole family, but I promised his wife that I wouldn't post it. It was early morning and though I can attest that she looked absolutely beautiful, she did not feel ready for public portraits. Kristi, Christian and company: Thank you for all you did for me!