Edwidge Danticat in this week’s New Yorker has a haunting short essay about his cousins in the Haitian earthquake’s aftermath. The magnitude of that disaster has been too hard to read about on a daily basis, but this obituary has the emotion of a thousand death reports.
Everyone sounded eerily calm on the phone. No one was screaming. No one was crying. No one said â€œWhy me?â€ or â€œWeâ€™re cursed.â€ Even as the aftershocks kept coming, theyâ€™d say, â€œThe ground is shaking again,â€ as though this had become a normal occurrence. They inquired about family members outside Haiti: an elderly relative, a baby, my one-year-old daughter.
I cried and apologized. â€œIâ€™m sorry I canâ€™t be with you,â€ I said. â€œIf not for the babyâ€”â€
My nearly six-foot-tall twenty-two-year-old cousinâ€”the beauty queen we nicknamed Naomi Campbellâ€”who says that she is hungry and has been sleeping in bushes with dead bodies nearby, stops me.
â€œDonâ€™t cry,â€ she says. â€œThatâ€™s life.â€
â€œNo, itâ€™s not life,â€ I say. â€œOr it should not be.â€
â€œIt is,â€ she insists. â€œThatâ€™s what it is. And life, like death, lasts only yon ti moman.â€ Only a little while. â™¦