In late November last year, my friend's baby, Christopher, died of meningitis partly due to my mistakes in his care. It was an awful day; I will never forget weeping with his mother, Christine, and with my friend and clinic manager, Lucson.
A beautiful new beginning came in early summer when Christine gave birth to Chrystel. Baby Chrystel didn't only fill the void in Christine's heart; she also became the second chance for her older sister, Christina, to be "Other Mother". I met Chrystel upon my return to Haiti this August and I was deeply touched by the joy I saw in their faces.
On Wednesday, Christine came to pick up some formula for Chrystel who has been off the breast since she was hospitalized shortly after birth. Christine told me that the baby had cholera and was in a treatment center but when I responded with shock and concern, my friend assured me that the danger was past and the doctors said Chrystel was doing great. When I hugged Christine good-bye, I told her to please call me when Chrystel was discharged so that I would be at ease.
The call came the following morning at 7am. I was in a taptap going to clinic and I knew as soon as I heard Christine's voice on the line: Chrystel had died.
In some ways, it was worse than Christopher's death because I wasn't there to hold Christine and to cry with her. I walked to clinic, hid in one of the unfinished rooms, and cried for 20 minutes. And then I got up and started working. Because this is Haiti. We live with death in our faces every day. It's awful, but it keeps our compassion alive and our eyes on the only true constant that exists: Jesus.