“There is no word, no label, no identifying moniker,
I am not a widow, not an orphan, not childless
But one child less…”
Who among us can adequately speak for the mother who has lost her child? Who among us can truly fathom the complexity of the love between a mother and a child? Artists, in the embracement of creativity, have attempted to meticulously carve that love, sculpt its profoundness, re-create its unending flame on waiting canvas, sing of its plenitude in sonorous harmonies and seal its truth in immortal literary verse. But, what power does mere man have to unravel such an umbilically binding force? None! We may speak of such understanding but the limitations of our humanity allow for our empathizing only briefly … then we forget.We forget the victim and we forget the family’s grief. We return to our lives unaware that a grieving mother has not scattered dirt on her son’s coffin because the coffin was never purchased. We forget that the buds were never robbed of their flowers for wreaths, the wails never echoed in the church after the cleric’s customary “rest in peace” proclamation, the burial certificate was never issued and the register never signed to signal Eddie’s final exit. That’s right! Eddie … Remember him?
On November 6th 2014, Felix “Eddie” David of Garrand, Babonneau fell into the sea whilst on a fishing expedition with four other young men near an area known by the locals as “La Shalope”. La Shalope, which is renowned for bwigo (whelks or sea snails) and other delicacies from the sea, carries the same burden as the nearby Grande Anse Bay – choppy, unpredictable wave action. A quick survey of the heart-stopping scenery will also reveal an abundance of rocks in the ocean and landscape that can generally be considered to be hostile (to humans). One of these is the popular “Sow and Sweet” area where novice and veteran fishermen allegedly travel across a precipice on a thin piece of rope all in an effort to get the “best catch”. Others who are seasoned divers will boldly tell of their near death experiences which involved evading sharks and other aquatic predators. To put it simply La Shalope, which can be likened to a mythological Siren, is unbelievably beautiful but dangerous.
After disappearing into the hungry, foaming brine, Eddie would never be seen again and the community of Garrand would be plunged into full grieving mode. As a sign of brotherhood, many came and wept to share in the family’s anguish. They uttered secretly what was already known in their hearts – Eddie was not coming home. A bereaved community would then organize search parties to comb the area which they knew so well in an effort to find Eddie’s body. On November 15th 2014, a badly decomposed headless body was discovered on the Fond D’or Beach in Dennery. Initial examinations of the body would confirm it to be that of a male but the family, eager for closure, was asked to wait at least six months for DNA results. More than eight months later … Here we are, no DNA results, no closure for the family, no Eddie!
How many families must be left to openly languish in their grief whilst a bureaucratic drama unfolds? The characters: the Forensic Lab, members of the media who are desperately seeking answers and the Ministry of Justice. Will Lady Justice inevitably proceed on leave until this drama production ends? Will the agony of Eddie’s family be further prolonged?
At times, we are so entangled by the plots unfolding around us that we forget the people behind the scenes – the victims (often memorialized for a few days in every news bulletin until another story presents the sensationalism that the public craves), the family members (left in a permanent state of “not knowing”) and the community (which yearns to know). We forget them. Kudos to the family of the late Linus Constantine who did not allow us to forget but what happens to those families who are not so open about their grief, families like that of Felix “Eddie” David?
Here’s to Eddie – he was 19-years-old when the waves swallowed him. His parents are both farmers from the community of Garrand and Eddie would often walk with his mother to the garden. Today she walks alone – strolling every morning on a route which passes near the cemetery. She undoubtedly reminisces about the walks they took and the many unfinished conversations.
“He was a good boy,” community members proclaim in a chorus befitting a beloved son who is dearly missed. When will this family receive closure? When will they obtain the answers they seek?
While many community members continue to maintain their certainty about the identity of the decomposed body, others subtly express their frustrations with a system that is seemingly unfeeling and incapable of empathizing. Who can blame them? While the authorities remain noticeably aphonic on the issue, we are all left to wonder. In the midst of this silence and wondering, one thing remains certain – Eddie matters!