Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Why is it so difficult to be vulnerable? I lived through something rather traumatic this year, something that utterly changed my life and yet, when people ask me about it, I generally say, "Well, it was a tough couple of months, but..." and I proceed to list off the positive things that have been happening since the quake. A few of my friends have received a proper picture of how I am and how I've been affected, but for some reason, it is very hard for me to be honest about it all.

Part of the problem is that until recently, I thought that I had pretty much moved on. But now that I have left Haiti and am forced by sheer distance to stop working and to look at the earthquake from a different angle, I am hit by a truckload of emotions. All the grief, the hurt, the anger, the confusion, and the guilt just come rushing back. My good friend Marc has gently argued with me every time I see him that I have been working too much since the earthquake but I would just respond that there is a ton to do and I can't stop. But that wasn't it. I realize now that I was working nonstop because to stop working, to stop doing meant that I might start thinking. Thinking meant that I would have to face all those quake-emotions all over again. And facing quake-emotions hurts. So I kept myself busy, even on my few days off. Always busy, always doing something so that I wouldn't cry, so that I wouldn't see the faces of my victims in my mind.

I feel sheepish saying this, but I have not recovered yet. As I drove down the 2 mile dirt road leading to Chop Point, I surprised myself by suddenly bursting into tears. I cried the whole way, guilty at being able to leave the rubble for this peaceful place, guilty at feeling so happy to be here. There was something else too and it took me a while to figure it out: I was grieving the death of the Keziah Furth who worked at camp for the past 3 years. Deep down, I am not the same person. I suppose you can't live through something of this magnitude and not feel changed.

I am forcing myself to do less and to think more. It's good, but it isn't fun. Sometimes I feel the weight of 300,000 deaths so heavily that I can barely breathe. Sometimes I can't stand the memory of those who died in my field and the fact that I was too occupied with other victims to give them the dignity in passing that they deserved. Sometimes my soul aches thinking about the mothers of Lovenide, Peterson, and Memene, little patients of mine who died. Sometimes I cry out of fear, not fear for safety, but fear of never fully dealing with this and fear of losing my poise at inopportune moments.

It has taken time, but I can say that God loves me and actually mean it. I can also say with utmost confidence that most of my life I have kept God in a little box and He simply does not fit. He's bigger and more complex than anything I can dictate for Him. So I've let Him out of the box. But I'm not sure what to do with Him now that He's out. He overwhelms me, awes me, confuses me. I can't talk to Him or relate to Him in the same way that I did before the earthquake, but I trust that at some point, He will re-teach me how to love Him back. For now, I just keep telling Him, "I don't understand You. Help me to understand." I think, I hope, that's enough.


Chops said...

Geez, Kez, stop making me cry at work.

Lauren said...

Oh my sweet friend... first off, you are a positive person. thats why you are able to look at the earthquake and tell people about some of the good things that have come because of it. yes, in a way you are hiding how you truly feel by saying those things (personal things that most people dont have a right to know anyway), but it also reinforces for you that there HAVE been positives!

I do believe that God has a wonderful purpose for you. He is testing you, and this is probably the hardest test of your life, but think of all you have done. I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, through Bill's, through any of the Haitians who know you. You are a gift to this world. Your strength, your wisdom, your everlasting love. You are one of God's most beautiful children.

But it's only normal to breakdown. I dont have to tell you that what you went through was a trauma. You NEED to breakdown every once in a while. But in those times of misery, remember how loved you are by all the people you have touched (and even those you have strangled!). Many would not be alive today if not for you. And while that is a heavy burden, it doesnt have to be yours alone. Talk with others, those closest to you. Give in to breaking down and questioning and grieving. But keep faith that there will be a time when you are rebuilt.

Im always here if you need to talk. And I love you so very much :)

Jim Schneid said...

a very moving piece. You are definitely dealing with post traumatic stress.
Don't fight it. Realize that your feelings are really valid. This is the grieving you should go through.

Jim Schneid
Contact us . YOu should come to graduation this friday night in Waterville and see Gretchen Andrews and Deirdre Heersink and Gina Hoang graduate from the residency.
contact me on my cell 242-9845

William said...

Kez, I just emailed SFC Ross and said how you always amaze me. Not only are you such a wonderful and giving person but a great writer too. You need to put out a book from your blog. God Bless, LTC Will McSkimming

Anonymous said...

Hey, I stumbled across this blog but I remember reading about you in Time. Just want to say about the last part of what you wrote: I've been there too, having to reconsider my entire relationship with God and not knowing where to start, feeling guilty even to dare to try and quantify or qualify what He means to me. And I wasn't quite as polite about it as you seem to be... but I can say that He helped build us something so much bigger and better than we'd had before, and it was really spectacular to experience. I learned God is infinitely patient and kind, He doesn't begrudge us our pain or grief or even anger, and He really does still heal in magnificent, obvious ways.

Madeleine Furth said...

Madeleine said
Your memories are HUGE TRAGEDIES.
And you helped with all your heart.
I do not know how to lessen your grief. You are in my prayers, Kez. Jesus wants to hug you.
After camp you are welcome to my place, to talk or cry or be quiet.
Its a small efficiency. 202-363-0316