dead bodies

by Kayla Raymond

As the tour of my heart’s graveyard comes to an end, I must also acknowledge the trauma that also holds space in my heart from all the dead bodies I’ve witnessed in Haiti. Such a weird sentence to type there, but it’s true, I’ve seen an obnoxious amount of dead bodies on the roads in Haiti; even my Haitian husband says I have a credible amount of experiences when it comes to this.

There were the first few incidents back in my early years where they were at least covered by while linens when I saw them. But, I can remember the first time I really saw something tragic. I was driving into Port for the day to meet up with a girlfriend and her young son. We were going to take our three boys horseback riding at a place where they were doing free lessons. We were about to turn right off the main highway to head into the city when there was a broken down dump truck. And then there it was, a decapitated person lying underneath the vehicle.

Then there was the horrific accident I witnessed just after bringing Rubie to Haiti. I was headed to the metal market with a few ladies who were visiting and we came upon a rolled over vehicle that had been transporting many people with a large amount of market goods. There were four or five bodies sprawled across the scene with several others severely injured.

Since the women who were with me were medically trained, we stopped to see if we could help. The one friend, an EMT, rushed to the vehicle to help the driver find a way out as the door was smashed in on him. I knelt down in the dirt, holding a piece of dirty rags wrapped around a man with a severe head laceration. As I asked the man a few questions I could feel someone hovering over me. When I looked up, I was shocked to see a police officer. He wasn’t there to help though, mostly just there for crowd control. The worst was when we were getting ready to leave the scene, we found a man lying in the back of my truck bed. I informed the police officer I wouldn’t be able to transport anyone to the hospital and he simply replied, “okay, just set him off to the side of the road.”

The anxiety that followed that accident was the worst I’ve ever experienced. I remember a day I was driving, Rubie was in the back seat. I had to pull over to catch my breath because all I could envision was us getting into a car accident and the police coming to simply hover over our bodies. There was no ambulance to rush us to the hospital. No hospital to treat our injured bodies.

This past spring Wishla had a day off from school and I was needing to run some errands in the city. I had this marvelous idea to take my two girls out on the town for a day with me. This is something I’d never done before and the thought of buying groceries, having a fun lunch and spending the day together seemed so wonderful, so normal. The last stop I needed to make for Rosie’s was at a store with some kids’ toys, so I let the girls both pick out a small toy. I buckled them into the back seat, knowing they’d stay busy for the drive home with their new toys.

This was during a time when gas was becoming scarce, so the last thing on my to-do list was to find gas as we left the city. I was zooming down a curvy road, about to take a right turn, and there, right in front of me, stood a group of civilians and police officers with a dead body in the middle of the crowd. I assumed there had been an accident and the man had been hit. I went two blocks further down the road where there was a gas station, also noticing another large crowd across the street. And then there it was, another dead body, this one though with a mangled body and head.

I left the gas station quickly, not wanting my girls to see the tragic sight. Thankfully the new toys still had their full attention. Later that evening I was writing a friend who lived in the area where I saw this horrific scene, asking her if she knew what had happened. She informed me that the two men had robbed a local business. The first man I saw was taken down by police officers; the second man had been taken down by the civilians. I guess I can now say I’ve seen a man who has been stoned to death.

I was obviously shook up that night and cried to Webert, saying, “I just want to take my girls shopping and end up putting them in harms way! I JUST WANT TO BE NORMAL!” Who knows, if we hadn’t stopped at that last store and spent an extra five minutes picking out a new toy, we could have been coming down the road when the shootings and murders were taking place.

I guess this is all to say, life in limbo carries more trauma than what you may want to know. People may think I’m crazy when they see me out with all my kids grocery shopping, but what they don’t realize is how healing the act of driving to the store, with them all in tote, just to buy a loaf of bread and a bundle of bananas can be.

I can’t explain why God has protected me from so much, yet allowed me to see so much tragedy as well. I also question why my graveyard is so full. Yet, I still have this strange peace, I mean I’m able to sleep at night. I think of certain friends I have and if they would see just one of the scenes above, they’d be medicated and unable to sleep. That’s nothing against them, it’s just their personalities and I wonder why God would allow me to have a personality that can see and bear so much?

From deaths and trauma, to injustice and incomplete adoptions, to ministry and business, to managing people and have people steal, lie, cheat and betray, to somehow still have motivation and compassion and fire in my soul. Just thinking about it all makes me want to take a very, very long nap, yet somehow, God wakes me up every day with energy and equips me. He also just keeps giving me ridiculous ideas, some creative, some simple, some requiring a lot more work than I maybe want to do. But, even after all of the crud, I still find myself ready to fight for mamas and their families. I still find myself dreaming up marketing campaigns and ways to make sales so we can continue providing life-changing jobs. I still find myself madly in love with my husband and our kids. I still find myself awake and fully present and what a gift that is.

But, still having all of those things, doesn’t mean I’m not a disheveled mess on the inside. And just to keep the theme going, life in limbo is just that: moving forward, yet standing still; sleeping peacefully, yet wrestling with so many questions; reshaping your trust in all things, yet able to recognize exactly in Whom your trust lies in; reevaluating all you’ve ever believed in, yet knowing exactly What you believe in. Life in limbo is a discombobulation of one million feelings fed by a million different lies, yet a whole and pure understanding of who you are, knowing you are called Beloved by a God who reigns.