5 Things I Learned While Dealing With the Sudden Death of My Father in Haiti
Today is Flag Day in Haiti. As a result every year, Haitians all over the world celebrate their culture and heritage. For the last 20 years of my life, it has not been a celebration for me at all. In fact, May 18 has been the worst calendar day for me.
I love my home country Haiti a lot. I love everything about it. But I realized that my bitter sweet love for being Haitian comes from the anger of the memory of what this country left me with.
It was December 30th 1996 when at 3 am I heard a huge knock on the door. My mother, my older sister and I were the only ones fast asleep in the house. My father was visiting my other sister in New York who was attending college at the time.
I woke up frantic. I ran to my mom and saw armed men in front. It was dark. These were the longest 20 minutes of my life. During the entire time, I was praying in my heart. Asking God to protect me, my sister and my mom. I blacked out. All I can remember are the tears falling down my face when one of the man approached me trying to slip his hands under my shirt. I begged him not to do me any arm. I told him to please not to do what he was attempting to do to me and I closed my eyes and prayed. God heard my prayers and one of the other man that was breaking everything in the house looking for money and any valuable things in the house to steal called him and he left me.
Complete silence... in the dark ... my mother, sister and I just started crying. Trying to understand what had just happened to us.
My father heard about what happened and was extremely upset. When he returned to Haiti from visiting my sister in New York, I hugged him and cried to him. He apologized to me and told me that this will never happen to me again. He made a promise to me that no one should ever hurt me.
It was May 15th 1997. 5 months later. 3 am in the middle of the night. I heard a huge knock. It was dark. A group of man with firearms walked into the house. My father, my mother, my sister and I all ran into my bedroom and locked the door. My father told me to jump over the window and just run. By the time I jumped over, a gun shot missed me. They had surrounded the house. I fell right on my back in the bedroom. We were not going to be able to escape. One of the man broke my bedroom door, pulled my mother and my father into the living room and asked them to lay flat...head down. It happened so fast.
At that point, I noticed that they had not seen my sister and I so I took my older sister's hand and ran into the bathroom to hide. I put my hand inside her mouth so she wouldn't scream. I peaked over the bathroom door and saw my parents legs and the men surrounding them with guns pointing at mom and dad. My heart was racing so fast. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't even make out what they were saying. And then I heard it. The gun shot. And then I saw it. The pool of blood. And then I heard it. My mother saying in creole "They shut Albert ...Jesus..They shut him..."
Fast forward on May 18th 1997 , 1:00 am. My mother wakes me up at my aunt's house to tell me that my dad will not make it out of his coma and that he was gone forever.
It's OK to cry: Face it Again
After my father's sudden death, I was just numb. My only focus was to educate myself because learning was very important to him and I didn't want to disappoint him. I barely made it through high school. Landed in the States and only had one thing in mind: Make Him Proud. I attended college full time while working a full time job. Giving up was never in my vocabulary.
I never cried. I never mourned. I did not want to. I was avoiding to cry. I was afraid to experience the pain. I tried to avoid any means possible not to travel to Haiti. When I did go, I went for no more than 3 days to family functions and back. This for over a decade until my husband did an intervention and booked a trip to Haiti and arranged for me to go back to the house and to visit my father in the cemetery. I cried for all the years that I never cried. I was 16 years old again fighting the anger that I had inside. My hands were sweating driving the streets of Haiti. Bringing back all of these memories was just like someone stabbing my heart with a sharp knife.
After that week long trip, I felt so good. I had released all of the tears I was holding on to for so long. I still cry today because I miss him so much. But my tears today are tears of joy. Tears of celebration of being his daughter.
It Doesn't Get Better Overtime
Friends and Family would tell me that it would get better overtime. It got worst. As I continued my life accomplishing huge milestones, I would cry even harder. Graduating from College, graduating from Grad school, getting married, giving birth, accepting a huge promotion at work....none of these events were easy for me.
I wanted to share them with him. Hear his thoughts. See him smile, cry, congratulate me, and walk me down the aisle.
The older I get the harder it gets. But today, I decided to switch my mindset and instead I choose to smile when I think of the things he would say to me when big moments in my life happen.
Who You Surround Yourself With is Vital
Put God first and the ones that love you and care for your well being most next.
I realized over the years that it is not about quantity but instead it is about the quality of the people around me that matters most. The vibration of the energy in the Universe does not lie.
When I decided to let God take control of my life, my circle of friends got very small and God edited down the people that were important to my growth and the ones that were not.
Today, as I continue to live this life, I am thankful and grateful for the new relationships that God has created for me and the ones that have stayed from day 1. Without them, I don't know that I would be able to have the strength nor the will to start a business, be a mom, a wife and work a full time job. Every time I feel like breaking down, I have someone texting me, emailing me or calling me without me even reaching out.
Surround yourself with the ones that care for you the most. Period.
You Will Feel Better When You Celebrate
When I reminisce about my father, I reminisce the good times. The moments when he made me laugh. The times that he thaught me something. When I celebrate him, I feel his spirit alive and I know that he is manifesting in everything that I do. I used to look at old pictures and cry. Now I smile and I can hear his voice when I see his pictures around the house and on my desk at work.
Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself
What we feel is what we get. I used to want to associate all of my failures and obstacles because of what had happened to me in Haiti during those 2 nights.
I chose not to feel pity anymore and instead, God has thaught me that what happened in my life was needed for my personal growth and I accepted this rule. I no longer feel sorry for myself and I don't one anyone else to feel sorry for me.
All and all, we all have a story deep inside that is untold. I chose to tell you mine in hopes to inspire you to conquer your pain and to put God first. The strength and passion that I have today is only because of what happened to me. I have accepted this and I am proud of it. I thank God for making me go through what I went though and building me up to be able to now publicly share my story.
Take your obstacles as blessings. I know it is hard to believe, but trust me, it is the best thing you could ever do for yourself. Today, I feel light, I feel stronger, I feel armed and ready to live my life to the fullest until I get to meet my daddy again and chat all about it.
Thank You Chrystelle Bouchereau, Vanessa Chery-Mellon, Dena Lancry, Elizabeth Memnon Desgrottes, Alexandra Outten, Allysha Canter, Daphne Valerius, Sherry Swan, Kara Vaval Ferrier for always checking up on me, sending me positive vibes and giving me that extra push when I don't even look for it. Thank You to my husband, Fitzreynold Cadet for being patient with me in understanding what I went through and healing me. Thank You to my kids, my sisters and my mom for always reminding me that I am here for a reason. Thank You to my cousin, Fabienne Jean-Baptiste Leger and Cousin-in-law aka my BFF Vanessa Thezan Leger for always finding the time to connect no matter the distance. Thank You my Lord for giving me the strength to be able to type this post and finally express the core reason why I am heading the direction that I am heading because I chose to surrender to HIS love and obey.
I tend to look too close to the mirror sometimes and if it wasn't for these souls I would not have it in me to care about living after this tragedy. Today I am free and I am stronger.