Answer to a Prayer

Ever since the earthquake I’ve been meditating on the right way to respond. I knew the crisis would bring an immediate outpouring and decided to wait and make my contribution with some thought, while the need was still there but after the first rush had died down.

The answer came in the opening piece of the New Yorker’s Comment section from two weeks ago. (I just got around to reading it on Friday.) Edwidge Danticat has been a favorite author for some time. We had a brief personal connection when she wrote a marvelous introduction to my mother’s Miss Muriel and Other Stories.

Not long before the collection came out, Edwidge published a disturbing and eloquent book called Brother, I Am Dying about her own father’s terminal illness and his brother’s death at the hands of U.S. immigration agents after he had entered the country legally.

The New Yorker essay tells of how her cousin, son of this same uncle, lived and died in Haiti.

After reading it, I’ve decided to send money for her to donate to the most needy. I hope  I won’t overwhelm her since she’s just had another child. I do feel, however, that she’s in a far better position to know where the help should go than a great many of the aid workers who seem to be stumbling around.

Here is what I wrote to her after I finished Brother, I Am Dying.

Oh, my! What a beautiful, painful work! I laughed. I cried. Here is what I loved the most:
You revived memories of little Madeline living in that house in Paris covered with vines. She made me realize I wasn’t the only “odd bird.”
Your storytelling ability shines. I was on an airplane reading about the firefight at the church. The wheels hit the ground just as the gang members approached your uncle, and I was so engrossed in the book I had forgotten where I was but caught myself before I yelled out loud.
You were truly blessed in your childhood, despite the hardships. You had the benefit of living in a magical world with truly rich traditions, something that television and consumer culture have leached out of many of us who grew up in the U.S.A.
You were blessed, too, in having had not one but two paternal figures in your life who were able to say they loved you. Oh, how I envy you that!
I admire your ability to describe your uncle’s final illness and death in such eloquent fashion. Every official in the U.S. government who had anything to do with his detention should be fired and tried for homicide.
Thank you for writing such a magnificent work.

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One Response to “Answer to a Prayer”

  1. Haiti, Mon Amour « Lizr128′s Blog Says:

    […] I noted in “Answer to A Prayer,” I’ve admired Edwidge Danticat. Her brief contribution, “Tenacity,” best evokes the […]

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