This interchange was repeated at least 10 times. Suzanne looked back and forth silently between the two of us as if she were watching a tennis match.
“Barth put you up to this, didn’t he? He is going to suffer. Wait until I tell Kathy [Barth’s wife]. What are you going to do there?”
“Meet the doctors there, see what the conditions are like.”
“Who’s going to pay for it?”
“We’ll raise the money from contributions.”
“Who’ll do the morning carpool?”
“That can be your contribution.”
“Why would you want to go there, anyway? They’ve got diseases on top of diseases. It’s not safe. They’ll put a tire around your neck and ignite it.”
“That won’t happen. Don’t be silly. You can’t stop me. You might as well accept it.”
“Just make sure your insurance is paid.”
So first there was AIDS, and now there would be Haiti. My professional and personal lives seemed to be spiraling in ways I could not control. I blamed myself for my part in the article that stigmatized Haitians for having AIDS. Beyond that I was haunted by memories of Régis and all my other Haitian patients and shamed by the fact that I hadn’t been able to do more for them. Janet would probably never understand. After 14 years of involvement, I had to go. Somewhere down there, perhaps I’d find some answers. Perhaps I could make up for past mistakes.