Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What Happened To You?

I had a very good Christmas and I hope you did as well. But there is a story that I am going to relay to you that enhanced my Christmas, from being just another Christmas to one that I will always remember.

The other day I was in the White Plains Library. I got there a couple of minutes before it opened at 10 o'clock and there are a bunch of people standing around in the lobby, waiting for the guard to let everyone in. So I notice a woman standing with three shopping bags literally overflowing with Christmas gifts. Next a little blond-haired girl and an Hispanic woman show up. The little girl says to the blond, "I haven't seen you for a really long time," and then adds, "What happened to you?"

I will never forget the adorable sound of the girl's voice saying those words.

The little girl asked this question with curiosity, concern, and a touch of anger. But anger more in a loving sense with great concern, as opposed to being filled with rage or hate.

I couldn't catch what the blond said in response, except the bits and pieces that I heard without looking like I was listening. They were "going to go upstairs to the children's room," "how nice it is up there," and "how nicely decorated it is." So as the three are getting onto the elevator the little girl says in a very matter of fact way, "I'm already seven."

I was heartbroken at this exchange. There is no question in my mind the blond was this little girl's mother. I am not sure who the Hispanic woman was. Perhaps child services? I'm not sure. I have my theories that I won't go into, but the bottom line is: Somehow, someway this little girl and her mother were separated. For how long, I don't know. As we all know, a long time to little kids can be a few weeks, a few days, or even just a few moments. I get the sense that it was a significant amount of time, though.

I had an urge to follow them onto the elevator and sort of hover and listen to what they had to say. This was a thought and in no way would ever be a reality. Still, I was very interested in how the mother and daughter would interact with one another.

I did what I had to do and left. But I was really struck by what I heard and saw. I still am. I drove away in my car with my radio off and was completely taken aback by the whole thing. I speculated about what I thought had happened? I though about how the time apart had effected the little girl and how it may impact her life going forward? I hope that the two can heal from whatever emotional scars may exist.

It appeared to me that this was a supervised visit for the mother and that is a shame on the one hand. Having to exchange Christmas gifts with your child in a library? Really sad. However, it also means that this woman is digging herself out of whatever adverse situation she was in, and is now restarting a relationship with her precious daughter. That of course is the positive to this and what really matters.

Some folks I know who are constant contrarians, would say I am being presumptuous and I may be completely wrong about who everyone was and what the circumstances behind all of this actually are. Yeah, I know some people think it's cute to just disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I've been wrong before, but there is absolutely no way I got this one wrong. The little girl was a "mini me" of the older woman. I also could tell by how the two were interacting, but basically it was just a strong sense that I had.

I have not seen many things like this that have touched me to this extent. Believe me, I can't overstate how moved I am. But it gave me a great deal of gratitude for what I have presently and have had in the past.

I am writing this on my blog to pass on because stories like this are really important. But also for selfish reasons, because I will have a record of it for myself and will be able to refer back to it in the future. I hope that I never forget the two women or the little girl. With her cute little face, she will not be easily forgotten. I kept all of them in my prayers over the weekend and hope to do so for a long time, perhaps you will as well.

Some days, and more specifically moments, stand out for good and bad reasons, however, most days in our lives are kind of all jumbled together. This is one moment that I doubt I will ever forget.

1 comment:

Montgomery Delaney said...

Thanks for sharing this very touching story. In fact, the library is a place that is designated by the Family Court as a meeting place for supervised visitation. That is exactly what you witnessed. This child was removed foor some reason either as a result of a Child Protective Services investigation or a nasty custody dispute. It makes you grateful when you see that the dysfunction in other lives is more intense than the dysfunction in your own. In some way, all of us have some dysfunction of our own. There is a song in this Sean...and as you suggested, it doesn't have to be a sad song either.

Merry Christmas
Montgomery