Feeling a little raw

I’m feeling sad. I’m feeling tired. I’m feeling emotional. I’m feeling helpless. I’m feeling angry.

When I was a pastor back in BC we used “check ins” in our student ministry programs. Talk about how you feel. No need to explain or justify if you don’t want to. Just figure out what you’re feeling.

For most of the day my eyes have had that post cry puffy thing going on. It’s been a rough day here in Rollingville.

Last week Peter noticed that Daisy seemed sick. She would drink water and throw it back up again. We watched her for a day, then called the vet on Friday. Dr. Thony has been our vet for many years. He’s from St. Marc and is like the old school family doctor that makes house calls. Every six months or so he shows up and deworms, vaccinates etc. When he came Friday Daisy was in bad shape. She shot her up with antibiotics and dewormer and came back every day to check her and give her more meds. Peter had seen her eating a dead mouse in the yard. We were all worried that she had gotten some mouse poison with the mouse, but after some research Peter found out that the amount of poison she would have needed to eat to be that sick would have been a lot.

This morning Daisy went and laid down on the rock patio behind Peter and Sara’s house. She was in really bad shape. Chris called Dr. Thony, but 5 minutes after that things went down hill quickly and then she was gone. I’ve never seen a person or an animal die before. It was hard to see her in her last moments. I stood by watching as the guys comforted her and let her go through the process, with tears streaming down my face. When Dr. Thony got her and checked her out he confirmed that she had a parasite from the mouse. Cats can have the parasite in their systems without a problem, but in a dog the parasite will attack it’s intestines and then an infection usually follows. Dr. Thony had pumped her full of dewormer and antibiotics but we figure by the time she was even showing signs it was already too late. Today is a sad day.

It’s sad and I’m feeling raw. People ask us all the time how we’re doing and our general response has been along the lines of “fine” or “not too bad” or “we’re still alive and have all our limbs, so good” (said with gratitude, not sarcasm). The truth is that we are affected and we are processing, each of us in our own way.

Just last week some pieces came together for me with Olivia. I couldn’t figure out why she all of the sudden had such a big issue with loud (or “loug” as she says) noises. Trucks, planes, french fry friers…whatever was a loud sound that started suddenly. The worst has been helicopters. It took me an entire month to realize that she was freakin’ out about them because we actually heard the earthquake in Pierre Payen before we felt it. It rolled in as a very audible rumble. Then the shaking started. Yesterday afternoon we were down on the lawn visiting with Peter and Sara and a helicopter flew overhead. Olivia said, “Mommy! Helicopter!” and then ran to me as fast as she could. This is her new normal. She panics because it reminds her of the day where there was a very loud rumble and then the earth started shaking. And it shook several more times.

Olivia doesn’t have the understanding of plate techtonics or natural disasters. She just knows that it was scary. She just knows that after it happened she saw her Mommy crying a lot and her Daddy was different for a while. Doing some reading yesterday I realized that Olivia is exhibiting several of the signs of Post Traumatic Stress. She is two. It makes sense. She doesn’t understand what happened, just that it did. Now she runs from loud noises and is more clingy and needy than she usually is. On top of that we have had some big changes in the last month. We have a new family here, which is wonderful for all of us, but an adjustment none the less. She has graduated from sleeping in a crib to having the sides taken off and sleeping in a “big girl bed”. She has been potty training. And she has had parents that have been trying to process their own stuff. Poor kid. I realized yesterday that there have been days where we have expected more from her than we probably should be right now, or not understood why she was behaving the way she was and just chalked it up to being two. I mean, that’s in there, but it’s not all about that right now.

Chris and I are each processing stuff in our own ways, and the hard thing about it is that we both had entirely different experiences. I think it can be hard for us to relate to each other sometimes, or for us to be understanding of each other. Chris went through a horrendous experience, and I was here in our still standing house. I will never know or understand what he saw or felt in those moments. He won’t know what it felt like for me to be here at home, safe, wondering if he was still alive, or the relief I felt when I saw him standing in our driveway. I don’t know that I have even had the words to try to tell him. I mean, I have tried, but I don’t know how well it came out.

Yesterday was Manba day for me. Overall it was a good day. The clinic was closed because of a holiday, so we just saw the Manba families that came. It was a slow day for Manba and there wasn’t any one case that was super hard to deal with. In fact there were a lot of things I enjoyed about the day, like having the space for moms and dads to wait in the building and to listen to them chatting with each other while they waited for a consult to be done. It was more communal. I liked it. Having the slower pace though gave me some time to think about some things that I haven’t really worked through, and might never.

I told Chris this morning, in the midst of a big snotty teary mess, that there are days where one particular case might leave me ready to start weeping before I even start the consult. Having a mother walk in with a child that is so malnourished they should be dead is HARD. It’s hard for me as a mom to see kids come in that are the same age as Olivia, and yet half her size or worse. I feel so helpless when I hold some of these kids and wonder if we’re really going to be able to save their little lives. There are times where I’m working through checking a child and am hoping that my face isn’t reading like a book because of all the things I’m feeling. And sometimes I keep my head turned away as I choke back tears.

Yesterday Manba was sort of the straw that broke the camels back for me. It just left me feeling raw enough for other stuff to start getting to me, and then the rest of it just started to roll out.

This morning we called the lady that sold us Daisy, just to let her know. She told Chris that she had lost her husband in the earthquake. He was the first person we had known face to face that is now gone. We know that we will hear of more people over the coming months, but this was the first for us. Until now it’s been the people we know telling us of the people that they have lost. It’s a different reality. They were such a young and vibrant couple. So kind and friendly. We only met them briefly, but we liked them. My heart is aching for this woman.

This is a bit of a muddled mess of sadness. Sorry about that random jumping thing, but for me it’s all sort of gobbing together and flowing around inside me. Writing and talking help me process.

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

9 thoughts on “Feeling a little raw

  1. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dog and of the gentleman you got her from. I really think the saying is true – when it rains, it pours. Also sorry for Olivia’s anxiety. My daughter, adopted as a 12-month-old in China, had PTSD. Even the echoing sound in a public restroom would send her into screaming hysterics and she was past 6 before she would go in one. Loud noises were terrifying to her. It makes you feel so helpless when they are afraid and you cannot convince them everything is okay. But the good thing is they now have someone to keep trying. Wishing you peace in Haiti.

  2. Praying a little harder for you today. Losing a pet can be as hard as losing a person. So sorry for all the loses around you, both mentally and physically. May God give you what you are needing today.


  3. Leslie,
    Thanks for being real and honest about where you’re at. I’m sorry for all the tough things you’re going through. Please know that you’re not alone in this. You’re part of God’s family and He has brought many brothers and sisters to come alongside you guys and hold you up in prayer.
    I pray that He comforts and strengthens your hearts and little Olivia’s too.

  4. The sun is shining on the beautiful city of Vancouver this morning a city on fire with the Olympics. As I read your blog I am so sad – its not easy to lose a “four footed friend”, or someone you had know face to face as you put it. Its not easy comfort a child. In all these things I am reminded that God will let His light shine on you. In your sorrow He will hold you closer. Only He knows the depths of your despair. Today I feel unworthy to be blessed to live were I do knowing that precious people have lost their lifes, have lost family and friends, they have lost their homes and they have lost their pets. All I can do is pray for you and your adopted country. I so appreciate your honesty in what you blog do not apologize for what you feel.
    A grateful Canadian Grandmother

  5. We lost our 10-year old dog too, and in nearly the same manner as your dear Daisy. He ate something, became listless, and went off into the neighbor’s garden behind some bushes. We searched high and low, found him and managed to get him to the vet, who ran a few tests. The vet suggested we take Spike home so he’d be more comfortable and promised to call in the morning with the results.
    Sadly, Spiky died less than an hour later at home–tough to watch. We all cried. My husband mourned for months.
    You are not alone. It seems frivolous, but animals provide great comfort and companionship, despite the headaches…

  6. Thanks for your posts, they are reminders to lift you up in prayer…you are on the front lines, and the enemy goes after whatever he can get…covering you and your family…

  7. Aw, sweetheart. What a rough time you guys have been having.

    It will get better. It’s going to be OK. I can promise it will be because I’m really old by now and know.

    (not yours biologically, but emotionally in that category)

  8. I’m so sorry about Daisy. My 17 yo kitty recently died and it was heartbreaking to watch. I’ve never seen a pet die before and I have to work hard at not thinking about that day. Our pets are family members and we love them. I know it’s sad right now so let yourself cry but then think of a funny Daisy story. When I’m mourning my kitty I think back to a time when he swatted my sister’s butt for no good reason. She had been trying to get his attention all day and he was ignoring her as only a kitty can do. She finally gave up and laid on the carpet, face down to rest. My kitty walked by and swatted her on the butt then ran off. We laughed so hard tears were running down our faces.

    Pets are wonderful.

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