I went to bed last night with the funeral home across the street overflowing into the streets with the biggest party I have ever seen outside of Solomon's Island Tiki Bar Opening (cheers St Mary's friends). It was a wake for a 90yo woman, a distant family member of Edelin. Haitians know how to celebrate life even in it's passing. Edelin explained that "We are born. We live. We die. It's just how it goes." In medicine, I spend so much time fearing death, afraid I won't halt it's grasp on the living that I forget that I really don't get a say in when that moment happens, not really.
Waking this morning was like any other day in Haiti, the roosters crowing, breakfast being made with the utmost care in the kitchen below me, and those mountains calling to me. I also heard a six hour Catholic mass (it is broadcast across town on loud speaker). When you feel tired after 45 minutes next Sunday, think of that. It was immediately followed by the funeral mass for the 90yo woman. Standing room only, out the door, into the streets with a small marching band (a la New Orleans style). How often do we celebrate our elders in this way?
During the morning mass, I went for a walk with Edelin and had the opportunity to see some of the other homes he is working on building for the poor. When does this guy sleep? Apparently never, because after the funeral we took a moto taxi out into the country to an area called Bas Pinal. He originally started a food program to feed the poor but realized the desperate need for an orphanage. He teamed up with a church in Georgia to build a dormitory and school and he just completed a stall for a goat to get the children fresh milk. When I arrived and saw those beautiful children and adults (Edelin doesn't discriminate, if there are homeless starving adults, he helps them too) I just melted. We went into the spotless schoolhouse and they waited one by one to be seen. I saw the sick and Edelin helped by removing a very large thorn from a child's foot. The first child had a loud murmur but exhibited no symptoms. The next child had fever and likely pneumonia in his right lower lung. An adult had had a stroke in her 30s with pain along bilateral temporal arteries. Another child with fever, murmur and possible pneumonia and several children with mild colds.
It was sometime as I listened to another little chest that I realized I was having one of the most perfect moments in my life. I know this seems a bit crazy but it felt like I had waited my entire life for that schoolhouse, those children, and my dreams to converge. It was incredible. I belonged there. I felt like I grasped a piece of joy in that moment that is rare, perhaps never to be repeated. Don't get me wrong, there are personal moments (weddings, babies, etc) that outweigh everything but this was something mystical. All I can say is, if I hadn't gone to PA school, hadn't met Pam Burwell, hadn't come to Haiti, I never would have had that moment.
Summing up Day 9: I am so thankful for all of the pieces that fell into place so that I could experience that moment today.