Mitha, or “Ah ti tah” as she was lovingly referred to by her babies will forever be one of the most beautiful women I have ever known. Her love was obvious and pure. In the midst of chaotic days where one baby or another was always crying, Mitha smiled in joy. I never once saw her raise her voice. I never witnessed her sitting without one of her precious babies on her lap.
When I left Haiti in June of 2009 Mitha cried with me as I said goodbye. She told me she would pray for me and couldn’t wait to see me again. She promised to take good care of my “ti fre” until I came back for him. When I left Haiti I was leaving so many things that I loved and one of the hardest things to walk away from was my relationships with the nannies. I had come to love each and every one of them and above the rest I had developed one of the most genuine relationships of my life with this special woman.
Among the blur of last January’s events I remember Mitha sitting on a blanket in the yard and asking me if my family was ok. Only hours after the collapse of her entire life, before she had heard from her own husband and children at home, she was concerned for me.
I remember the moment that I came into the nursery to find her with tears streaming down her cheeks as they prepared the children to be evacuated. She assured me that she was happy, but that she did not want to say goodbye to all of her babies. She loved them with a fierce love, often giving them little nicknames… “Titootoo, Kerdudu, G-bebe” She would have given them everything in her power and when it comes down to it, she gave them the one thing that no one else could. She gave them the love of a mother while they waited. She gave them arms to rock them to sleep, hands that smoothed their foreheads while they burned with fever, she gave them a lullaby when they woke up in the dark of night. She gave them her heart.
I remember Mitha as she proudly carried her babies up the steps onto the plane that would carry them away. Her tears were dry this time, instead she smiled for the little ones she had loved into this new life. One by one she carried them and placed them into the arms of someone else. Giving with each of them, a piece of her heart. As she passed me she whispered “Bondye renmen nou plis” God loves them more… an assurance that God cares for her children and she will trust them to his care.
On the day after we arrived in Miami I flew with my parents and Kerdjerns from Miami to Minneapolis. As we walked through the airport Kerdjerns spotted a huge luggage cart piled high with bags. His eyes grew huge and he started yelling “Ah ti tah, ah ti tah!” in his excitement he called out for the one person he knew to share his joy with. His “Ah ti tah” his nanny, his mama in his mind.
This past May and June while I was in Haiti I had started an English class with the ladies of the main house every night. Once the children were in bed I would sit with the nannies and teach them English. I knew that Mitha wasn’t feeling well. She often told me that she was very tired. In spite of her fatigue she never missed a class. Several nights, by the time I came upstairs Mitha was already in bed but as soon as I came in she would get up and come to sit to learn her lesson of the day. She loved practicing and showing me what she learned. I loved her enthusiasm and joy. When I left this time she looked me right in the eye and with a huge grin she said, “I love you” in perfect English!
I know there are adoptive parents out there who read this blog, I’m sure you must wonder about your children’s days at GLA, I hope you know just how much each and every one of the ladies there cared for your little one. It’s easy to think of the volunteers who you can so easily relate to, the ones who come from North American and speak the same language as you do. While those girls gave weeks of their time to cuddle your baby while these women gave their entire lives. They were the ones who stayed while their own families fates were unknown. They were the ones who cheered for their first steps and got up in the night when they cried. They were the ones who your baby loved, more than anyone else. Maybe you spent weeks last spring trying to figure out this word they kept saying. What was this “Ah ti tah” they kept talking about? Well, now you know. Ah ti tah and all of those other women who gave those babies every ounce of love they had.
I dreamed of the day that Kerdjerns would come back to Haiti. I imagined proudly bringing him back to GLA and introducing him to the women who had cared so much about him. It hurts to know what he will never, on this earth see his Mitha again. It hurts to know that all he will have are the stories I will desperately cling to, for him and for me. The memory of the woman who made him who he is today and who was one of the best friends I have ever had.
It hurts but at the same time I have caught myself smiling at unexpected moments throughout the day today. When I imagined the joy that she is in, made all that much sweeter by the pain of her life on earth. I imagine the moment she took Berlancia in her arms and held her again. I imagine the happiness that radiated as the looked at the perfectness that replaced the pain she had left. I imagine her voice joined in songs of praise, I imagined the beauty of her smile, full, complete and totally perfect. I cry for us but not for her, for Mitha I smile…