Who Speaks for Ed­die?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

“There is no word, no la­bel, no iden­ti­fy­ing moniker, I am not a widow, not an or­phan, not child­less But one child less…”

WCh­eryl McDon­ald ho 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!

Felix “Ed­die” David of Gar­rand, Babon­neau: His dis­ap­pear­ance re­mains a

mys­tery.

Ed­die’s mother, Jacintha David waits for an­swers.

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