Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God gives, God takes

At 5 in the morning Yvka opened the broken door to Lisanne’s room with a warm bowl of buyon (a soup with plantains, dumplings, and yucca).

As the sun rose from the mountains from afar Yvka sat next to her trying to spoon feed Lisanne, monitoring her breathing. Throughout the morning she bathed her in bed changing her clothes since she could no longer contain her bowel movements.

I arrived at 9am, after theater of the oppressed. The flies swarmed around her as she struggled for air. It was as if they knew.

We sat with the others as we planned for the morgue. Madame Lakwa tried to fill Lisanne’s empty stomach at noon while Yvka went off to hide her tears from the rest. They knew, we all knew.

I went to eat and bring back food for Yvka, who hadn’t eaten. Yvka and I stayed accompanying and sharing stories of the time spent with Lisanne as I braided her hair.

The wind blew, the children laughed, Alex complained, Tyler slept, and Lisanne ceased.

I went to her, calmly searched for her pulse, placed my hand on her chest, my finger under her nose, I kissed her still warm cheekbones that I had kissed so many times before and rubbed my warm nose against her cold one.

I walked across the room to Daniel to rub his head. Daniel spoke to me without lifting his head, “M pa kapab fe anyen, m pa kapab fe anyen. I can’t do anything, I can’t do anything.” He struggled up and limped over to his partner whom he had had ten children with. He uncovered her head, leaned over close to her face, straightened up, and limped back to his cot where he sat with his head low. “She’s dead. M pa kapab fe anyen.” I stood up, went outside, found the buyon and offered it to Daniel. He looked at Yvka and nourished himself with his companion’s last meal. He knew.

The wind blew, the children left, Alex complained, Tyler awoke, and Daniel ate.

As M. Lakwa and M. Lissette went searching for assistance at the morgue I continued to braid Yvka’s hair with Lisanne to my right and Daniel to my left.

When M. Lakwa and M. Lissette arrived with the stretcher the sun snuggled into the far off mountains. I thirsted.

They found no one to help carry the body to the morgue. We laid the stretcher by the cot on the floor. I lifted Lisanne’s head and upperbody while Yvka took her legs. Down the steep doorway, through the narrow corner, passed the gate, we carried. The weight of her body perplexed me; Lisanne was pure bones, and her body a cross. As soon as we passed the brick red gate two young men began bantering, laughing. The mockery continued all the way down the hill through the town to the main street.

People began to follow us out of curiosity.

“Who is it?” the voices cried out from porches and kiosks.

“An old one from Kay Pov,” a young woman responded through her smile.

“One less!” they cackled.

“Who is it?” they yelled, “Alex?”

“No, another from Kay Pov,” one of the followers replied.

“Aw, what a shame, I was hoping it was Alex.”

“Who is it?” they asked.

“A moun from Kay Pov.”

Laughter followed.

Motorcycles zoomed by honking and the mockery continued.

It wasn’t until we arrived to the main street that two women offered to help, M. Lissette on one corner of the stretcher and someone unknown to us on another corner. The four of us continued down the street towards the morgue as the crowds continued.

Abba, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

The man at the morgue wanted to discuss business before opening the door for us. Sweat streamed down our faces, the unknown lady went to place her corner on the floor while M. Lissette refuted, “No, we will carry her until she enters.” We did not budge. The man looked at our faces and unlocked the heavy doors to the small room that contained another body. We followed directions placing her body on the floor. We left.

There lay the body of Lisanne “like a dish that is broken.” (Psalm 31)

Our friend

who devoured her rice and beans and only used her spoon to scoop more in her hand,

who squabbled constantly and thunderously with Daniel, but who missed him terribly when he went out for wood,

who would store her powdered tobacco in a knot in the bandana she wrapped around her head,

who opened her clouded eyes towards the sun to sense the sunlight
is now a part of it, of us, all.

All the group of ladies from my first salsa class cleaned out her room today and sat to accompany and feel the wind blow by the side of Daniel and the others in Kay Pov.

Now Tiffany will have a bed.

With you,



  1. Lisanne is the woman I am kissing in the profile picture and Daniel is the one next to her.

  2. no hay separacion.

    sudo contigo y al mismo tiempo siento el peso del corazon de 'Daniel' y le sobo y le doy carino a 'Yvka'
    y entre todo Amor.

    siempre contigo

  3. you have my prayers...

    "..what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breathe from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?"

  4. May the Lord bless you and your loved ones. May the Lord make you strong in your sweet way to love. May the Lord have mercy on the ones who don't undestand. Neida