More lost friends; photos of the fallen

Another awful day of bad news.

The full extent of the losses to our community is finally hitting home, as hope disappears.

This morning we learned of the death of the wonderful, vivacious Alexandra Duguay, whose house we visited only a couple of weeks ago. Also at that house party was Andrew Wyllie and family. Andrew survived, but we have learned his family did not.

I am left staring at this photograph, taken of Alexandra, Andrew’s boys and my own son Dorian, after Alexandra had pinned up a flamboyant new road sign to Impasse Tulipe, where she had just moved. (Many roads in PAP remained unmarked or badly signposted; so like Alexandra to take the initiative and simply make one). Everyone pitched in. Only Dorian remains, through sheer random chance.

Happier days

Dorian in his own way is quite aware of what happened. He keeps asking how we can save the people, how we can build Haiti again and make it strong. He started crying at the prospect of no longer being able to play with some of the friends he met.

We also heard of the loss of Andrew Grene this morning. On the same day that Anna and I visited Alexandra, we had gone to Andrew’s house for a wonderful lunch – which was briefly attended by Hedi Annabi, also fallen. Andrew showered our children with presents, a terrifically sweet gesture.

The weekend before we left, we had brunch at home with Emily Sanson-Rejouis, Emmanuel and their three beautiful daughters, Kofie-Jade, Zenzie and Alyahna. The children were so sweet together, scampering around the patio. We were looking forward to many more play dates; and I was excited to get to know Emmanuel better. He was in a similar position to me; a UN spouse (though formerly a UN employee himself), looking to make the most of our time in Haiti. I wanted to help on a philanthropic project he was working on to provide low cost t-shirts to NGOs. We were planning to play tennis.

Only Emily and Alyahna still live. Another family was at that brunch too, but I haven’t enough details to know their full story yet, so don’t want to write anything. UPDATE: Tragically, we have heard that Cleiton also died, leaving behind him his wife Irene and his son Jannick. I would like to write more about him; he was a lovely guy, UN Security, former Brazilian police, who I chatting with for a long time on New Year’s Eve.

And then I think of Christmas and New Year, which we spent at the home of Patrick Hein – who miraculously was pulled out of the rubble – and Cecilia Corneo, whose whereabouts are still not known. And many others at that party.

It’s devastating. Everyone we met, every party we attended, everyone we had a meal with or invited over has either perished, or lost someone very close. And there is so much we still don’t know; the situation of the wonderful Haitians – Finante, Denise, Benson, others, whom I wrote about in my pre-quake posts – who worked with us, how they are coping at this awful time. I hope I can get back soon.


16 responses to “More lost friends; photos of the fallen

  1. I cannot even start to imagine what you are going through…sad times..

  2. Oh Mark, this is absolutely heartbreaking. I am so deeply sorry for your loss, and the loss of so many, countless others. These personal stories really bring the reality of the tragedy starkly to life, to those of us over here where life just goes on as normal, we complain about queues being too long, trains being late and so on. It is unimaginable to me how much suffering is going on at this very moment. And unbearably frustrating and bewildering to keep hearing of the supplies and help arriving so slowly, and far, far too late.
    Best wishes to you, Anna and your little ones.
    x Liz

  3. marie-france bourgeois

    No words can be uttered in such awful moments. These are difficult times for you, as you were close to those who perished. At last, you are there to show support and compassion.
    We, the people who know Andy are extremely sad (the words are not strong enough) for him and are touched beyond words. Many of us who were colleagues have been writing and praying for him. I know that you still question if there is a God… There seems to be none in these kind of terrible events.
    Back in 2007, Andy and I were OCHA-colleagues. I remember being at his house with his wife and swimming with their lovely boys. I was waiting to go and pick up my daughter in China and I remember looking at his youngest and wishing that mine would be as sweet and cute as Andy’s son.
    I can assure you that many colleagues from the DRCongo are crying with him for this unbearable loss and wonder what we could do for him. He has good and close friends who were supposed to fly to Haiti and provide support. They may have arrived by now.
    May Andy be given the strength to go through this unbearable moments. I know a bit of the feeling having lost someone in Irak back in 2003 but I had no child involved and children, as you know very well since you are a father, are our life and greatest joy on earth.
    I did not know Alexandra but she is also from Quebec and I have read much about her, she seems like a wonderful human being and you can sense a zest for life in the photo.
    I wish to thank you for it. If you allow, I would like to send this photo to Andy’s ex- colleagues scattered throughout the world. If not, I will understand.
    Marie-France Bourgeois
    Ex humanitarian aid worker
    PS Is your wife Anna Shotton, if so, say hello pls. she may remember me.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, a powerful piece of lives lost seven days ago. My thoughts are with all the people of Haiti and those residing there who were caught up in this tragedy.

  5. My heart continues to break for you and all. Alexandra’s death is felt more personally because I had been circulating the call for help posted here by Laurence-isabelle Gingras. and had a name to worry for.

    I will treasure your wonderful photo of her and the boys as a personal keepsake.

    If you have no objection I would also like to put it on my blog along with the note I plan to add to the query. It will make possible for my visitors to take some of the pain and share their love.

  6. I do not know you or the people you describe or depict in photographs but I am at a loss to understand the emotion and loss you and those you speak of or describe have suffered. I do not know how or why but what is happening and has happened in Haiti has broken my heart and spoken to something deep in my soul. I do not believe in God and yet I pray for those, like you, who have survived to describe the human tragedy that occurs today in Port au Prince.

  7. We are so sorry for them and for you and your family Mark. Our thoughts are with you and we would particularly appreciate, in the days ahead, your thoughts on the best/most effective ways to help.

  8. I am so very sorry.. and very touched by your description of the events of the past week. Your blog brings a jolting dimension to this human tragedy… Thank-you for letting us know. We will keep you, your family and your friends in our hearts.

  9. This is absolutely devastating news! Needless to say that my hormones are crazy( 3 weeks to go) and I cried for a good hour. We think about you a lot and all your friends that you lost. This tragedy puts our lives in perspective and humbles us in our little every day nonsense problems.
    Mateo is very concerned about Dorian and his friends. He remembers him very well and keeps asking when we can see him so he can bring food and toys for everyone. We wish you all the best and please let us know if there’s anything we can do. We have a friend that is leaving tomorrow, Unfortunately we can’t….

  10. Both Pamela and I have you, Anna and family in our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time for you all. It must be devastating to keep on hearing the news and confirmation that you have lost all these newly made friends and work colleagues.

    We understand that you will be going back shortly to see whether your house and possessions are intact. This obviously will not be a pleasant task to go through with.

    Take care,

    Gordon & Pamela

  11. I really can’t describe how sad I was when I got the news that Alex was gone last night.
    I know cry doesn’t help but I just can’t stop crying. Since the very first minute I learned about Haiti’s earthquake,I have been worried about her.
    Alex was such a wonderful person, always vibrant, happy, with naughty smile. She was always helpful, and extremely popular among our jounalists here in the UN.I can still clear remember the scene when we had a small party for her at the UNCA club last May before she was heading to Haiti. How I wish I had a photo with her at that time. I will always remember her in my mind.
    Thank you very much for sharing with us the photo of her.
    Wish you and your family all the best.
    Take care~~

  12. Mark, please send my love to Anna. Thank god you are all safe. Desperate times. Thinking constantly about Andy. With best regards,

  13. We are a Foreign Service family and I happened upon your link while searching to learn more about the Wyllie family. I am so sorry for the loss, and please know that many of us are thinking of everyone there. Thank you, though, for sharing the photographs and stories of your friends.

    Again, my condolences.

  14. Also, hope you don’t mind if I link to your blog in a post I am writing today. Thanks!

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