thought, too unsettling for me to dwell on at length on any single occasion, haunted me for several years. Perhaps I was not as free of fears, phobias, or prejudices as I wanted to think I was.
For the most part I was depressed that Régis’s last hospital admission had been such a failure. He left with even worse vision than he came in with. His long-term prospects for staying in the United States or surviving until we had some sort of treatment were as remote as ever. And a seed of doubt about his honesty had been planted in the minds of the only people in this country who cared about him.
Alina also had resolved her ambivalence. Although we never discussed it, I’m sure her thought process was similar to mine. She became worried when we did not hear from Régis. It was possible that he was living on the streets again. The friend he went home with might not have existed. We were both concerned that the breach of trust from the last admission might keep him from coming back. Why did we ever question his honesty? A week passed.
He came to the office only one more time. I was not there, but he spoke with Alina. He told her he had decided to return to Haiti. Alina made arrangements with the Catholic Charities to pay for his airfare back to Haiti and put him up in a hotel for a few nights. He would be leaving in a few days. As she told me of the plans for his departure her eyes welled up with tears, and I had a terrible lump in my throat.
“He told me that he wanted to thank you for all that you did for him. He said that perhaps if he gets better he will return and complete his education.” I told her that I had no delusions. Once he got on the airplane neither of us would ever see him again. She said she was meeting him at the airport and asked if I would like to come.
I looked at my appointment book. Since I was on the hospital wards in the morning and had private patients scheduled in the afternoon, it really wasn’t possible. Yet I couldn’t help feeling relieved telling her I could not go. It was a precedent I did not want to establish. I cared about Régis. I felt a loss in his leaving and a failure