I live among them but I am not one of them.
He is my husband. He is the man I am closer to than anyone else in the world but, sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and I don’t know why. He tells me nothings wrong because he was raised in a world where emotional weakness can get you killed. I have never known true hunger; he told me once he went 4 days without eating because he had no money. He’s never owned a refrigerator, an indoor toilet, or a kitchen sink. He speaks only of today because for him, and every other Haitian adult, the future is to uncertain to plan for.
She is my daughter. She is a 4 year old with an attitude. She plays school in our back yard and can have hour long conversations with our German Shepard. She likes to change her outfit 3 to 4 times a day and always ask if she can wear my make-up. She’s a born leader and a great dancer, but when it’s time for bed she will go in her room without being told and fall asleep alone with the lights still on. She forgets sometimes she has a mommy now who will tuck her in at night. She lies when I asked her if she’s already eaten breakfast because she is afraid to miss another chance to get food. She never ask for her real mother and she trembles when we pass her old house. I often watch her and wonder what goes on inside her little mind. How much hurt can one tiny heart hold?
He is my son and he is all boy. At 7 years old I often ask myself how it is possible for one child to get that dirty in that short amount of time. He plays hard and has an appetite that would put grown men to shame. He loves to cuddle when his friends aren’t looking, but when he gets hurt he refuses to be consoled. He tells me tears don’t fix anything so why show them. “Are you 7 years old, little boy?” I didn’t scold him when I found week old bread hidden under his mattress because I know old habits die hard. He’s never known a world where food is always available and I’ve never known a world where it isn’t.
She is my daughter and she’s going to be a beautiful young lady. She dances in front of her bedroom mirror just like any other 13 year old girl. She loves to wear beautiful dresses and on special occasions I let her borrow my jewelry. She loves soccer and can argue defense strategies with her older brothers. She is smart, artistic, and kind hearted. I wake up every morning to find her sweeping the floor and doing the dishes and I wonder why. What teenager volunteers to do chores without being asked, a teenager who has been taught to work far to much. When will she allow herself to play? Why does she flinch when I raise my arms quickly to hug her? She must have been hit and it must have hurt enough to leave a scarred memory.
I live among them, but I am not one of them. I have never feared for my life or wondered where my next meal would come from. I have never went to bed not knowing if I was loved. I’ve never told lies for food or been forced to work as a child. I’ve never feared an adults embrace. I was shown more love in my childhood then some receive in an entire life. I have learned from my family how to accept love and how to show love. My job now is to take this precious gift I was given an show it to this small group of people. Some days it seems like a very mundane job, but in reality it is anything but. Love is never ordinary or meaningless. It is priceless and precious and once it is given to us we are all commanded to share it.