the graveyard

by Kayla Raymond

In May 2018, I flew to Indiana to do a three day debriefing session. At the time, a good friend, who had spent the last few years living in Haiti, was living full-time with this couple who debriefed people as their full-time ministry.

One of the activities they had me to was look through a whole stack of magazines and rip out pictures. I was to glue all the pictures onto a large poster board, creating a collage that would tell a story about my life; I got to choose what story I wanted depicted. The collage ended up looking like a cluttered mess, but that’s what made it such an accurate description of my life.

That night, after dinner, a long walk and a glass of wine, I shared my poster and the stories it told to the couple doing the debriefing and my friend. On the poster was a picture of a big, grassy lawn. I shared the reason for having that picture:

1.) I hold a deep gratitude for my house in Haiti and cherish the fact that my children have a yard to play in. Green grass is hard to come by in Haiti and over the years we have been able to grow one. Almost every afternoon the kids run and play in this space; soccer being the most popular game played. It has held many intense games as the orphanage kids and village kids are always around to play.

2.) But, this yard, using it as an illustration of my heart, holds many grave sites for the people I’ve lost in the last seven years. At the time, I was still processing and grieving the loss of a very dear friend, whose life ended way too quickly, leaving behind two precious daughters.

Since losing her, I haven’t been the same. And just in this calendar year of 2019, there’s been six more deaths of people who have impacted me and been a part of my life in Haiti. As I spend this month writing, I know I need to tell their stories as their deaths have become a part of my story, leaving so much grief settled at the bottom of my heart.

I’ve seen people exploit Haitians and their lives as a way to bring in more money for their organization; a marketing scheme, if you will. I have a bitter taste in my mouth because I’ve seen it done so many times, so that’s why it is even more difficult to write these stories as I never want to cross that line. But, I’m feeling this gentle push from God to write, knowing there will be healing in the process. I guess I include this paragraph just to let you in on the fact that I’m sensitive to this whole matter. And at the end of the day, I just want to honor these lives more than anything.

So, tomorrow we shall start from beginning to end, a tour of my heart’s graveyard.