“And sometimes anniversaries hurt . You feel them in inexplicable aches in your body, or in a general unease that you keep trying to shake until you realize, yes, it is that time of year. Again.”
On January 11 this year, the New Yorker published an online piece by Edwidge Danticat reflecting on the terrible earthquake that devastated her home country Haiti on January 12, 2010. The quote at the head of this post is from that article.
On the morning of January 12, 2010, I was at the kitchen sink washing the breakfast dishes. Laura was on the recliner in the family room, listening to NPR on the little radio we had bought at Radio Shack over the holidays. When she wasn’t in bed or eating at the table, she’d been spending most of her days in this recliner since this picture was taken on the day after Christmas during Anne Mei’s cello recital.
That morning in January she called me to come over. She’d heard something important on the radio. By this time her brain tumor had significantly affected her ability to speak, but she’d understood the news story and wanted me to hear it, too. She understood everything until the end. The tumor just trapped her words inside.
When I got over to her, she pointed to the radio and said something like “Listen. Something bad has happened.” Then I heard the news about the earthquake in Haiti. We listened together for a while. Laura was worried about the people in Haiti. She stayed listening while I went back to the dishes.
Today is January 26, 2020. By this date in 2010, Laura was no longer able to get out of bed. Oxycodone was no longer sufficient to control the pain so she was getting morphine drops, supplemented by a fentanyl patch. While these medicines effectively controlled the pain, they also caused her to doze off. She would wake up in the evening, however, if she didn’t hear Anne Mei practicing her violin, or she didn’t like what she heard. I was usually out clearing up after supper, but I’d hear her call “Ken!” I knew that Anne Mei and I were in hot water.