Thursday, February 28, 2013

Imagine being this child.

Imagine for just a moment…

You have a hard life. It's not comfortable or predictable. You wake each morning and go to bed each night feeling empty... sometimes emotionally, sometimes physically. You have a few familiarities in your life... a smoke cloud from cigarettes usually fills the room each morning. Sometimes your mom will have something for breakfast... a cold bottle of milk, maybe a soft drink, chips, dry cereal. She leaves you and your siblings each day, dropping you off with someone else who doesn't like it when you jump around or talk to much. Mama says she loves you when she leaves. You want to go with her... but you know that no matter how much you beg, the answer is always the same. You wonder where she goes.

You watch cartoons... for hours. A few familiar faces enter throughout the day. No one acknowledges you... or your siblings. Sometimes, the visitors will take you to their home. You don't like it, but you have stopped fighting it after so long. You have no choice. You never know if you are just going to watch another TV or if someone wants to lay down with you and touch you all over. You feel scared.

Your mom returns. She has a bag of food and it smells so good. You tug at her for some french fries but she keeps telling you to wait. She is being yelled at for leaving you and your siblings for so long. We must be a problem. They must be mad at her because of us.

You eat. She smokes while texting on her cell phone. More visitors come throughout the night and you see or hear them hurting your Mama. You want to cry, but you are too afraid to make a noise.

The next morning you wake up. You stare at the ceiling for a few minutes. You lay there looking at your hands. They are dirty and sticky. You have been wearing the same clothes for several days.

A nice woman comes to your house. She brings you food and it tastes so good. She also brings a bag of clothes for you and your siblings. You wonder who she is. She always tells you that you are sweet and that Jesus loves you. You see this woman every few days. She has friends with her who are also nice. Once, you get the courage to ask her if you can come home with her, but she just responds with a pitiful face. You know she is always nice. She always has food. She smells so good.

One day, she agrees that you can come with her. Mama cries and wants a hug. You hug her and she squeezes extra hard. You wonder why she is upset. She tells you that she loves you in a way that makes you really believe it. You sense that something is wrong. Your are buckled into a car seat. What is happening? You arrive a a house. Everything here looks different. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the dry cereal. You wonder if someone told her that you like plain Cheerios.

Days pass. You cry sometimes for your siblings. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over how different everything feels. The woman tries to comfort you. You appreciate her attempts, but she doesn't speak your language emotionally. She doesn't seem to realize the terrible things that have happened to you.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new woman tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid her, preferring to sleep alone, away from her and any intimate words or contact. Sometimes, her husband will ask you if you want to read a book when he gets home from work. You sit next to him. This feels strange.

You still ache for your siblings, but gradually you are learning to trust this new woman. Although you still don't understand her bedtime songs, you like the lilt of her voice and take some comfort in it. You wish your Mama would have held you this way.

More time passes. You try to ask her about it, but she just takes you by the hand and answers you with words you don't really comprehend. You drive and drive and drive. New people ask you questions about your birth Mama and your old life when you sit on their couch. They tell you it is OK to tell the truth. You are not sure.

Weeks pass and this woman keeps asking you questions about how you like her home. Would you want to live there forever? Would you like to call her Mama? You shake your head yes and smile before you realize what you have agreed to. She starts referring to herself in 3rd person. "Mama needs you to pick up your puzzle." You like her being your Mama.

More time passes and new Mama and Daddy lead you into a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried. There are dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new Mama takes you to another woman who hugs you. Who is this? You smile at her. Then you are taken to another couple who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.

Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks.

You find it nearly impossible to sleep at night. Sometimes you lay in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your self for things you have been through. Loss of your old self feels so confusing. The new Mama checks on you. She seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a cup of milk. You turn away, pretending to go to sleep. Daddy comes in and tucks you in.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new Mama's hand. She pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness.

Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new Mama hands you a cup of milk and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your old life is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new Mama to yelp in pain. She just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly sit with her. You give her a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.