Monday, January 22, 2007
Reaching for Mom
I posted this back in March of last year - contrasting the horrible picture above with the experience I had with an unplanned little girl - that was allowed to live. I tried to be clever and profound by repeatedly mentioning the her arms and hands. Anyway, it seems appropriate again today with the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
I talked to the little girl's grandmother just last week and she is representing her county in the National Spelling Bee Contest.
I've never had a child of my own. But for two years I picked up a little girl at her grandmother's house every Sunday morning and took her to Church. Well, she went to Sunday School and I went to Church. Afterwards, I would feed her and then we would play all afternoon until her mother finished work at 4PM. By then, my house would be a mess, we would both be exhausted, and she would always fall asleep in my pick-up truck a quarter mile from my house on her way home.
One day when she was four, her mother and I picked her up at nursery school... the first time I'd been there... and with all her friends watching she headed straight for me, grabbed my leg in her little brown hands, and looked back at her friends.
On her fifth birthday her family had a party for her at a public park and I arrived late. It was cold and windy, and I wondered if anyone would show up. But the Philippine community on the north side of Indianapolis never missed a chance to get together, and everyone was there. As I approached the park shelter, she left her friends, screamed my name, and ran and jumped in my arms. Every eye was on us as I carried her back to the shelter, her arms around my neck and her cold little nose pressed against my face.
She had no memories of a father, but she had me.
But when she was scared or hurt, she always reached for Mom. Mom had born her out of wedlock in that other country where that kind of thing was still a big deal. Mom had cared for her out of a small suitcase those two scary days in Thailand when Mom wasn't sure where they would end up. And Mom had carried her on her hip into grandma's house in a strange new place called Indiana.
This little child touched me in so many ways, but my benefits paled next to what she did for her mother. You'd have thought her little hands could heal as she performed a miracle... transforming a bitter, disobedient, often neglected girl, into a beautiful woman of character and determination. The child was inconvenient, destroying so many dreams that the young mother had held... And as big a burden as she was before she was born, she was an even bigger burden for a young nursing student holding down a full time job, going to school full time, and still finding time to be Mom.
I thought the little girl would be mine, but it wasn't meant to be. Maybe Mom didn't love me, though I know she tried... but there was no mistaking the love and dreams she held for her daughter.
The child has a real father now, and I've heard he's a good man.
I've only seen my little one twice in the last three years and both times it was awkward for us, with little to say. Her memories of me, I'm sure, are cloudy at best... if she ever thinks of me at all.
I think about her every day. I remember her arms around my neck. I remember her little hand in mine.