Yesterday we had the funeral for Serlande. An extremely difficult day, but with the help of the Lord, that of my family from Canada, and with a tremendous amount of help and support from Luckner, I got through it. I had been very thankful for the amount of strength I had since Serlande became ill, through her death, and through all the painful arrangements. Yesterday, however, I did not feel strong at all. I leaned on those God had placed here to get me through it.
The day previous Ken and Jim did a sign to put outside the compound gate to inform people when the service would take place, etc.
Luckner and big brother Don were off to the morgue at 5:00 a.m. The service started at 8:00 a.m. here on the mission compound. The casket was open for a very short time for people to file past and say goodbye to Serlande. Luckner was in charge of the service and did a very good job. My children and Cecile (HATS family) sang at the service.
A lot of our school students were in attendance in their uniforms. One of our secondary students wanted to sing for Serlande but she could not get through it. I shared a little that was in my heart about Serlande. A lot of people were in attendance, one of whom was Dr. Katy Close, who had done a fantastic job of taking care of Serlandein the past and during her recent illness. Katy shared my pain when she could do no more for Serlande. It meant a lot to me that she would leave her rounds and regular work at the hospital yesterday morning and come support me at the funeral.
Luckner arranged transportation, approximately an hour travel time each way, of all the people in attendance at the service, to the town where the biological family of Serlande lived and where she was laid to rest. A very large truck (camion) was filled to capacity with people standing and holding unto each other, along with a smaller TapTap, also filled the same way. Luckner’s truck carried the casket along with lots of people. The HATS truck, driven by ‘blan’ chauffeur, Dickie, was filled with teachers and other employees. All four vehicles returned to the mission yesterday afternoon at 2:30 at which time everyone was served a meal of rice, beans, chicken and a cold drink.
Last night a load of rented chairs were returned and this morning another 60 rented chairs were picked up. The mission yard is starting to again look somewhat normal.
It, however, will never be ‘normal’, as I knew it, because my sweet, precious, and so very helpful daughter Serlande is missing. She is being missed so very much, too, by the younger children to whom she had been a sweet and loving ‘little mama’.
Just a few perceptions from a visitor’s point of view. Considering Serlande’s death circumstances which were beyond our control, and we were here, what a privilege to be among such a large crowd of soft spoken, respectful, helpful, polite Haitians. As in a death back home, there were significant neccessary funeral arrangements costs. But, several friends freely helped get chairs for the Open Air Service, and others did the work of covering the casket with cement when in the ground. Haiti may be very poor in the lack of material things, food, medicines and the ability to provide such daily family neccessities (They Need Help), but they still give us so many many good examples of ‘ warmth ‘, ‘ friendliness ‘, and those positive adjectives I’ve tried to list above.
Yes, much sadness has clouded the Compound and area this past couple weeks. As for Karen, it was so very admirable that she kept going, after all those long sleepless hours at the Hospital with Serlande, the long, long day needed to pick up Jim, Ken, Don at Port au Prince, the multitude of Funeral Service details for the service here on the compound at 8 AM, and the travel as mentioned for the second Service in the birth place town where Serlande was born – that Service and Burial ended at about 1 PM before the hour drive back. Then there was the meal provided for the supporters here as already mentioned.
We were only too glad to be here at this particular time and to offer some support on location. If anyone of you HATS supporters were here, you would have done the same. No need for me to attempt to eulogize Serlande. Appropriately, Karen has done that. May Serlande’s legacy live on !