Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sandra's & Tiffany's continuation - Breath, Eyes, Memory - the novel

Sandra Rivas
Professor Bacchus
English 103
Memory, Healing, and Love

I quickly buried my sobs into Grandme Ife’s chest. The pain felt unbearable. I would glance at the sky from time to time in hopes that the tears would stop falling down my cheeks. As more and more people noticed my uncontrollable suffering, I was able to gather myself and walk home alone. The others had gone to a small potluck the townspeople had made in respects of my mother.

As I walked past the cane fields, I thought of that night my mother’s innocence and security was taken from her. Something came over me;I felt a sudden impulse to lay down on the grass next to the maze of the cane fields. I lay for a minute, and started feeling something I couldn’t describe. All my life I had seen the effects of what had brought me into this world, but to lie like she had in the crisp grass that one horrible night dazed me. I lay under the sun protected by daylight and she lay under the moonlight trapped by darkness. The tears started to beckon themselves from my eye lids. I knew I was free and now I wanted to release my feelings out from the cage I had built for them when I was younger. I was in pain, and it seemed to lurk in our family frequently. I couldn’t follow in my mother's footsteps; I had to let go. "I will not make the same mistake, I must let go.”

As I lay in the grass thinking about my mother, I put myself in her shoes to try and understand why she had committed suicide. I lay there one more moment, and paid my last respects to my mother. She had been so brave all her life, and it was time for her to move one. She did not give up on life; life had given up on her. She was chosen to bare all this suffering for all these years, for reasons mystical beings would only know how to answer. I had made a depression in the grass in the figure of my body. I walked over to the road, picked up some stones and bombarded the spot where I had lain. I cursed my father and all the pain he had caused others. In doing this I was freeing my suppressed rage at my father and was freeing my mother’s adolescent soul. I stared at the pile of rocks, as if trying to picture my father dead under them. I took three deep breaths and walked away.

The sunset had already begun its reign over the landscape. I went into my mother’s room and fell into her bed. The sheets hugged me and said “Mwen renmen ou.( I love you)” I did not fight back, and responded in Haitian “ Mwen renmen ou pi plis( I love you more).” As I dozed off into a deep siesta, I imagined Bridgette as a teenager. She had a bronze tone to her polished skin and with penetrating dark eyes, ready to gauge a man's heart out; she swiftly walked the paths in my mind. Her hair was as thick as rope , and her height made her look superior. By now my eyes were open and I lay in bed, and thinking about Bridgette made me miss Joseph. The way he looked at me with so much love and respect made me feel a way I had never felt before. My breath became constant and I felt something pulsing in my groin. I burst into tears, again.

While caged in my sorrow, I hadn’t loved Joseph like I should have. I had been selfish all these years I was only thinking about my pain and suffering. I walked over to the stove and reheated last night’s coffee. I sat on the porch and watched the remnants of the sunset dance with the night sky. Beauty had always been around me,and I, caught in my problems, never noticed. I had gotten an education; I had a home and a family waiting for me in another country. I had been running long enough, and it was time for me to live. I knew my mother was gone but I felt her presence of protection all around me. I was ready to live my life the way I wanted too.

Hours had passed by and I began to worry about Grandme Ife and Aunt Tatie. I paced back and forth in front of the house letting the soft dirt grind between my toes. “Eske W gratis? Are you free?” yelled Aunt Atie in my direction. Her face no longer had tears streaming down, but I could still notice the bags under her eyes. I could tell there was stress in her eyes as she approached me. I spread my arms around them and we all began to cry. I appreciated and loved the people around me and now it was time for me to accept what I had.

I’m a Haitian woman, a mother, and a wife. This is the life that I was meant to live, and I was ready to accept that. My mother was brave and I will be brave in her honor also.

Continuation by Tiffany McLaughlin

I walked back into the familiar smells of my house. Joseph was trying to soothe a raging Brigitte, tossing her little body about.

“Love I would have picked you up from the airport,” Joseph said as he got up to embrace me.

He saw Tante Atie closely following behind with a fair amount of baggage. We all exchanged our hugs and love and studied every one’s faces. Brigitte was placed in my hands and we all embraced in a long soothing hug. It felt like it had been an eternity since we had all been together. She instantly stopped fussing and drooped into a sleepy slumber.

“How was it,” he asked. So many things rushed through my head. I looked at Tante Atie and said, “Grandmother died the morning after mother’s funeral.” You could tell there was concern in Joseph’s face for Atie, she was considerably thin and her face was filled with sorrow.

When I woke up the sun rays kissed my cheeks the shadows danced upon my face, I smelled the familiar scent of Joseph, the warm embrace he entangled me in. I was blessed to receive this man.

“Do you want to talk about your trip?” Joseph had awakened while I was lost in thought.

“I feel fine, I’ve felt exhausted lately. How has Brigitte been?

“This was the first night that she did not awaken in the night.”

“Maybe she needed her Maman. Or knew some things were changing and her
blood thinning.”

“Perhaps she did, I would go to pick her up and she’d be covered in sweat, her
eyes red when I woke her up.”

“Why did you not tell me this earlier?”

“I wouldn’t want to add any more stress to you on your trip. And apparently you found more tragedy over there. How long is your Aunt going to be staying with us?"

“You know she is like a mother to me, she is what I know a mother to be. I do not know how long but it will but she is suppose to come visit the United States for a little bit, Grandma left her money for the trip.”

“She seems like she needs a little bit of time off. She does not look healthy, she looks fragile, any minute I could just knock her over and break her.”

“These past few months she’s never lost so much in her life. Three of the most important people just disappeared in her life.”

“At least she has you. You better show her a good time while she’s here. Take her out and have a lot of fun.”

The next day we went out and walked around the neighborhood. Just me and Tante Atie. We talked long and hard about anything that came to our minds. We hadn’t really gotten to spend quality time together since I was little. We stopped at a corner store and she got a lottery ticket. It had reminded me a little bit of my childhood in Haiti.

We took Brigitte to the zoo and tried teaching her the animals names. She had been sleeping just fine and her eyes never turned red again. Her soul was at peace again. I think all of our family was resting quietly where they belonged. Nobody was moving about, peace at last.

That night we got back home and watched the news. It had been an exhausting few days. Running around from place to place. Tante Atie heard something about a lottery and rushed to retrieve her golden ticket. We all sat about waiting for her to return. I didn’t think much of it. It was just a lottery ticket. Finally she came back with a big grin on her face. I hadn’t see her look like this in a long time. They started calling numbers and her grin only got bigger and bigger. They had finished calling numbers and she had not dropped her happy demeanor.

“What happens when you get them all right?” she asked.

Joseph and I crowded around hovering over checking every number to make
sure she had not mistaken anything.

“You win!” I gasped. I don’t think she grasped the severity of the situation. This was going to be life changing. “You can do whatever you please!”

“Maybe this is some old left over family luck,” Joseph joked.

Yet all I could do was laugh. After everything that had happened it was so serious all the time, and I hadn’t had a good laugh in a long time. To just sit and uncontrollably laugh. To enjoy all the people around me and love everyone for who they were. I looked over at Joseph and he was laughing as well, fully enjoying the loud joy spread around the house. I decided that I could be free. I could lift some sheet that had been hiding me still from being fully vulnerable.

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