“Wilhem’s brothers found Jean Luc’s body under the concrete rubble of his grandma’s house. He did not survive the earthquake, along with her and another woman, a cousin. Jean Luc is dead.”
I read the message again, again, and again, not wanting to acknowledge its finality. After days of worries, anguish, uncertainties, our worst fears were confirmed. Jean Luc, my step-grandchild, did not survive the disaster.
“They combed the rubble for days, without tools, with bare hands, always hoping…”
Jean-Luc’s house stood across from my son-in-law’s childhood home, destroyed too. Thanks to a swift reaction, his brother jumped off the terrace into the garden when the house came crashing down and survived.
Morne Lazare, the Mountain of Lazarus, is no more. Everything came down when the earth shook, leaving unbelievable mountains of rubble, concrete, steel, furniture, memories, and an unknown number of dead behind. And Jean Luc.
The family prevented his father from seeing him. It would have been too much. His brothers took care to temporarily bury him and the women in a shallow rubble grave. There was no place anywhere in the city to bury the thousands of dead piling up on the sidewalks of streets that were already filled with countless survivors who had lost their homes. We didn’t want to put them there.
His mother kept up, strong in the face of such tragedy. Losing her closest loved ones like this is something no mother or daughter should endure. Weeks later, she locates body bags. The brothers undo the temporary grave and load the bodies into a jeep. She sees to it that they are properly buried in their far-off country home.
Jean Luc would be an adult now.
In my memory, he will always be the little kid who presented a loaf of bread and salt on a hand-carved wooden tray to his father and my daughter, his new stepmom, on the day of their wedding. The symbol of a cheerful home and prosperity. Adorable, dressed for the occasion in his little black jacket and elegant tie, he warmed everyone’s heart. He was loved by us all.
Eight years and sorrow lingers. Losing a child will change you forever. Things not done, words not spoken, loving gestures not shared, desires and dreams unfulfilled.
Only hope is left, the hope to see each other in the far beyond, to love anew, again. Love more. One day.
RIP Jean Luc.