Thursday, November 6, 2008
A very well-meaning missionary with tired eyes brought her to me.
When I first met Heureuse in Haiti in the early 2000’s she was the same petite and polite woman that she is today.
With my stethoscope placed over Heureuse’s heart, I could hear a loud gushing noise coming from her diseased aortic valve. A hole in her heart was nestled just below the bad valve.
Heurese needed heart surgery to stay alive.
Heureuse’s sister Eva had kept her alive while Heureuse’s body was all bloated with fluid. Eva had even made tapes for her. When Eva was in the capital, and Heureuse was lying on her mat in her home in the coastal village of Bainet, Eva’s recorded voice would tell Heureuse to stay alive.
Heureuse did stay alive, got out of Haiti, and survived major heart surgery performed by a large medical center in the United States.
But this year Heureuse has become real sick again and now the large medical center does not want Heureuse back for repeat surgery. It seems they are comfortable letting Heureuse the survivor silently slip away in Haiti.
Incredibly, last week, Heureuse was accepted by another excellent medical center in the United States for surgery.
So what exactly has Heureuse survived?
She survived dark lonely breathless nights in a slum of Port-au-Prince. Her family was far away.
She survived the powerful macrostructures far from Haiti which control her world and influence her misery.
She survived the rich and powerful of her own government and business community that don’t view her as human, let alone a human with dignity.
She survived the kidnapping business in Haiti and the haphazard bullets of the Blue Helmets.
She survived four tropical storms--- Ike, Gustav, Hannah, and Fay. She survived the subsequent brown mud and sewage that ripped down the mountain into her slum and shanty.
She survived the loss of her children’s father as he vomited blood and moaned as he died.
She survived giving away her children this year as she prepared to die.
She survived the disappearance of Eva in the Dominican Republic.
She survived heart failure this year as the operative repair she had done at the big medical center fell apart.
She survived the painful memory of the United States and all of its rich food and clean water. She survived the memory of the blan that cared for her then…
She survived the silence and abandonment of people at the large medical center that should have said something, should have done something, as she was being led to the gallows.
She survived the silence of the Bishops and Monsignors and Sisters and medical center chaplains who should control and influence the true philosophy of the medical center.
Heureuse has survived total despair.
She needs to survive a few more days.