Last Rites. We hold on. Zanmi Lasante, Cange, Haiti. 2009

Last Rites. We hold on. Zanmi Lasante, Cange, Haiti. 2009

What we see: a naked child, head down, against the bare torso of a man, arms reaching out and touching, and people touching each other, a steel gurney, reflecting a pool of light, no faces, a smear of wetness on the child’s bottom, heads looking to the center, one turned away.

Earlier, a 10-year old child was brought into the hospital compound, unresponsive. He was pronounced dead soon after, and his family and much of the Cange community gathered behind the morgue to collect the body and grieve.

I was told later that this was a last rite for the child, going out of this world the way he came in: head first, greeted by community with love and touches, and departing with touch and love. Everyone was touching someone who was touching the child.

I cried as I took this photograph, thinking of my own children. A wonderful photographer and blogger, Mike Chisholm, commented on another group of my photographs, ‘I Have Gone‘, and astutely pointed out a difference with this Haiti set. Yet, this one image more than any other connects the two bodies of work. We hold on, only because we have to let go.

Canon 5D MKII, EF 35mm 1.4L USM lens, post processed in Lightroom