One Year Ago

One year ago I was in Haiti visiting my son, Island Boy.  Two days before,  I ran the Disney Marathon with some great people, including Kristen, Jamie, Kim & Tara, to raise money for an ambulance for Haiti.  Three of us hobbled to the airport and onto a plane to Haiti.

Kristen, Jamie, Kim, RG & Tara

When Island Boy woke up on the morning of January 12, he pointed to my phone and said, “Call Papa!”  We had called The Major the day before and IB spoke with Papa, The Fashionista and Subway Dude.  TM said the older kids were beaming to hear IB say, “Allo” and “I love oo.”  On this day, IB ultimately did not want to speak with Papa.  Stage fright and all.

IB had a hearty appetite that day.  He always loved having access to unlimited water when I visited.  I imagine the treated well water was rationed at his Village.  Nothing was to be wasted.

We walked over to our friends, the Livesays’ house down the block.  IB did lots of bike riding that morning.  The Livesays had a bike with a handle on the back for pushing.  IB was very bossy with me about pushing.  “Pa pusay, Mama!”  Then he would get stuck and demand, “Pusay, Mama!” I would give him a push and it was back to, “Pa pusay, Mama!”

IB showed me his mad baseball skillz that morning.  What a swing!  And pitching?  Fuhgetaboutit!  This is a kid who does not get frustrated either.  He’ll keep at it whether he is succeeding or not.

We headed back to the Guest House for an afternoon siesta.  There were others in the Guest House.  Homeschooling was taking place.

Ready for nap time

When IB woke up he and his friend, Kembe, went outside to play.  We walked around the courtyard.  The boys were throwing limes onto the roof and playing a little “hide and seek” with the two big Mastiffs who live at the Guest House.

We wandered to the front of the house.  The dogs were resting in the garage.  I was enjoying watching the boys playing with the dogs.  The boys would sneak quietly up to see the dogs and then squeal in mock terror when they spotted the dogs.  These canines are basically two walking carpets.  They had zero interest in the boys.  The dogs wandered away from the game and disappeared behind the house.

Minutes before the earthquake. The boys were looking at the dogs.

I was video taping the boys’ antics and taking pictures.  Eventually the boys wanted to go behind the house.  They told me, in Kreyol, to stay where I was.  They wanted some time without constant supervision.  I stayed put.

Suddenly, there was a rumbling that grew louder and louder.  For a moment I wasn’t sure what it was.  Pretty quickly I realized it was an earthquake.  There was no way I could walk, so my instincts told me to sit down.

I scootched away from the wall that separated the Guest House from the neighboring house.  I was afraid the wall might fall on me.

The two dogs came lumbering around the corner of the house, paws skittering on the sidewalk.

The ground was rolling like waves in the ocean. The truck in the car port was rocking back and forth.  It was a crazy feeling.

Here's where I sat during the EQ.

Island Boy came screaming down the sidewalk at some point after the dogs.  He was calling, “Mama!  Mama!”  He jumped into my lap and we rode the rest of the quake out.

This is the view IB would have had running toward me.

This is the view IB had as he was running toward me.

After it was over, it seemed to take a long time for the others to emerge from within the house.  Thankfully, everyone emerged unscathed.  No injuries at all.  Tiles had been popped off of the walls, cracks opened up all along the walls, and bureaus were toppled.

We gathered where I was sitting outside of the car port.  We compared what we knew about aftershocks.  I knew nothing.  Kristen lives in California and had some information to share.  I tried my cell phone, but there wasn’t any service.

We agreed we would not be staying at the Guest House that night.  I, rather nonchalantly, strolled back into the house to gather my belongings.  As I was walking up the stairs I realized what had just happened.  This was not a time to be cavalier.  I raced upstairs and began tossing things into my suitcase.  Eventually, I went back in for the remainder of my things when we decided the Guest House was not habitable any longer.

Eventually, Troy Livesay walked over to get us.  We walked back to their house.  We saw the destruction of the walls and houses along the block to the Livesays.  It was disturbing, but nowhere near as bad as what was going on outside of the neighborhood.

Someone posted to Facebook that we were all fine.  Later, I was able to call The Major and I spoke with him briefly.  We ate dinner outside in the driveway.

The boys read stories before bed.  Then the two boys slept together in the living room.

I distinctly remember the aftershocks coming again and again.  A big one around midnight brought me to tears.

Wikipedia reports that: The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded eight aftershocks in the two hours after the main earthquake, with magnitudes between 4.3 and 5.9.Within the first nine hours 32 aftershocks of magnitude 4.2 or greater were recorded, 12 of which measured magnitude 5.0 or greater.

I also remember sitting in the kitchen with Tara in the middle of the night.  She was scouring the internet for news of friends.  There were tears of happiness and tears of sorrow as she heard news.

I had my back against the kitchen wall and would feel these low, slow reverberations against the wall.  In the coming days I would glance up and see if anyone else felt them.  Sometimes someone would say, “Did you feel that one?”  Other times no one would say anything, so I would keep quiet.  It was quite horrifying.  Yet, I was fortunate.  I had Island Boy in my arms and was surrounded by friends.

One of my favorite photos of all times. Thank God we're alive!

–Running Girl


2 responses to this post.

  1. That brought tears to my eyes. Island Boy is so lucky you were there!


  2. Posted by Lynne on January 12, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Just as teary as the first time I read this! How lucky you all were in so many ways.


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