Last week a friend died. She wasn’t someone I’d known for a long time, in fact, I’d only known her a week. One week. But she made an impression. She was sweet, very kind, very honest with herself. Even though she’d just met me she’d been vulnerable in front of me about a few things. Yes, likely it was because she was with her family in her cousin’s home and I was the only non-family member around. Her realness was less about me, but I still saw it, still felt it, still appreciated it. She was hilarious and beautiful. I liked her a lot.
I met her 3 beautiful children, 5, 3 & 10 months. I felt a little tug in my heart for the 3 yr. old, the only girl. As she sat there getting her hair braided her Mom was telling me how much baby girl longs for the presence for her absentee Daddy.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Her sweet little face, to me, seemed to carry such weight over this issue. At 3. Or maybe, her head hurt because she was getting it braided up and Lord knows that type of pain. Maybe I saw myself in her little heartbroken face, what with all of the confusion and fear I’m facing as I’m forcing myself to keep evaluating how my own Dad’s abuse is still affecting me severely.
Either way, we locked eyes. And I smiled. I kept smiling. I watched her hear how much she wants her Daddy and all the vulnerability of that truth articulated out loud. I hoped for just one moment I could communicate that us girls do want our Daddy’s and sometimes we don’t get them…but there can still be smiles.
I thought about her all week. I thought about her everyday actually. I thought about the fatherless journey she’s about to live and face, that I’ve lived and faced and it sobered me to my core. I thought about how I wanted to get together with her, her sweet Mama and those two precious little boys.
Exactly one week later, I got the news that her sweet Mama died unexpectedly from an un-forseen sickness.
And now that baby girl is orphaned. That baby girl who STAYED on my mind all week because she was fatherless is now to be motherless as well.
We got together, her cousin and other cousins our mutual friend and my kids at a park. This beautiful baby girl was just 2 days out from losing her Mama and facing her life like a brave warrior. I got down on her level, looked her in her eyes and said, “you will make it. You will make it. I will pray for you. God will be there for you.”
Her eyes bore into mine and she teared up a little bit. So did I. Later Dave asked if I thought she made the connection to what I was saying and the trauma thrust upon her, “I don’t know,” I told him. I hope so. God, I hope so.
Mostly, I was just mumbling. Mostly, I wanted to offer some reassurance. Mostly, I wanted to be at least one more safe person for her. Mostly, I wanted to move heaven and earth to change her circumstances but all I had to offer was, “you will make it,” a hug and dutifully following her around the playground.
All of that happened just 3 days ago. I’ve thought about her every day since. This sweet little girl, her name is Erica and for those of you who believe in the power of prayer, pray for her. Being orphaned by both father & mother is one of the hardest journey’s anyone can face and she starts her journey today and everyday not at 33, 53 or 73 like some of us but at 3.
At 3 years old.
Yesterday, I turned 37. My girl, Cin took me out to see, Saving Mr. Banks. Much of the story focuses on a girl and her complex relationship with her Dad. Near the end there, I hit a lip-quivering, river-stream, tear-enducing stupor. I could have at any moment erupted into the type of tears that makes folks typically uncomfortable. My movie theater crying jag theatrics are not for strangers of the faint of heart variety.
So. I held it in. But I thought about my Dad. I thought about Erica. I thought about important that relationship is. I pontificated how much the distortion of the Daddy-Daughter relationship wreaks lifetime havoc. Lifetime.
I am 37 now. She is 3.
Fatherlessness knows no age. Has no mercy.
That is my hope for Erica. For me. For the fatherless among us.
This post was written as a part of Heather of the EO’s, Just Write an exercise in free writing our ordinary and extraordinary moments.