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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Morning Confrontation

Having received the answer for which I’d been searching during my lakeside retreat, I put the issue of the little brothers on the back-burner of my mind. I’d already waited months; God’d bring the children who needed a home when He had everything in place. No point thinking about it night and day.

The following workweek occupied my days with the usual myriad of administrative tasks, as well as a few hospital employee issues to liven things up a bit. Still under the glow of the special weekend, neither the boredom of the routine paperwork nor the lightly heated confrontations dampened my joy.

A few days into the week, I pulled into the angled parking spot in front of the post office. Lillian had an appointment that morning, so I agreed to fetch the hospital mail on my way to work. I hadn’t noticed the little girls at first, but when I stepped up on the curb, I recognized the familiar faces.

 “Hey, there kids! Havin’ a picnic breakfast out here this mornin’?” I smiled at the two girls standing nearby, as I reached for the handle of the glass door.

Passing the open dry cereal box back and forth, the two grungy, little girls nodded, cheeks bulging like chipmunks. The condition of the neglected rag-a-muffins broke my heart every time I saw them. I stepped around them and pushed the Post Office door open wondering where their baby sister might be. I’d not seen the mother so reckoned she had the infant with her.

Both little girls turned to smile up at me as I exited the building. “My baby sister’s in the car,” the oldest girl announced, pointing to the vehicle parked at the curb 20 yards away. “Her was sleeping so Mama left her there and told us to wait outside.” The bright red hair of this darling freckle-faced four-year-old was sticky with remnants of another mealtime, some of which dotted her simple cotton shift.

Walking over to the vehicle, I found the infant filthy, asleep on the backseat of the car. A lump swelled in my throat. My gaze rested on the baby’s grimy, light brunette hair splayed across the side of her tiny face. She wore only a soggy diaper that looked squished against the seatback.

“Oh, Jesus, can’t you help these kids?” I said in a low whisper, before returning to her sisters.

“This here’s Jamie* and I’m Deni*. Her don’t talk so I talk for her,” said the older girl, pointing her thumb towards the skinny younger sister. 

Jamie, a  cute little African-American two-year-old, tipped her head up at me and smiled. Crumbs of dry cereal fell from her lips.  Tightly-kinked jet-black curls capped Jamie’s precious little head. Like her two sisters, she’d not had a bath recently.

To my shame, I was relieved that they had not reached up to shake my hand as kids here so often did. My late start that morning influenced my behavior towards the sticky fingers of the girls. I didn’t want to have to take time to wash before resuming my drive over to the office. Like that was more important than showing love and acceptance to two emotionally starved kids, right? I chided myself as I slid onto the driver’s seat.

Glancing in the rearview mirror as I rounded the corner, I saw the little girls still waving at me. My painfully burning eyes let go a deluge of tears as I pleaded with God. “Someone has got to do something, Lord! Won’t You, please, help these kids?”

I hurried past the hospital lobby, relieved that no one had stopped me. Still sniffling from my morning confrontation, I made my way up the stairs to my office, and sank into my desk chair. I couldn’t get the sight of those poor little girls out of my mind. Something had to be done to help them. Reaching for my phone, I dialed Jeanette.

Hi, John!” I said. “I’m looking for your wife, but maybe you have some idea. It’s about the Anderson* kids,” I said. I heard John’s groan before he spoke.

“Those poor little girls. Are they there at the hospital? Did one of them get hurt by one of their mother’s boyfriends or something?”

“No. No. Nothing like that. I just talked with them. They’re alone in front of the post office; the baby’s in the back seat of a car. They’re waiting for Mary*, who is probably in the attorney’s office. That’s where I found her car anyway.”

“It’s one of the saddest families. She’s likely going to leave the present man, or at least, that’s what Jeanette and I understood from Deni the other day.”

“A four-year-old told you her mother’s getting a divorce?” Such a heavy load for a little girl.

“Yes, but the children didn’t know when or if that would mean they would live in yet another house. We’re not sure they’re in the same residence now, actually. My wife and I try to keep an eye on them, but we’re not seeing them in the usual places for some reason.”

“Oh, John. Can it get any worse for these little girls?

Hanging up the phone, I thought about the two brothers the social worker had been trying to place in my home for months. Of similar ages as these three little girls, my heart broke for all of the unwanted children in our world.

Little did I know that within two days, I’d be so busy caring for children that my heart
wouldn’t have time to hurt for those outside my home.

*Name changed.

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