“With this ring, I thee wed.” As he held her hand, he gently slid the ring onto her finger. He was thinking, that this was a lifelong commitment, and not only was he sure that he was doing the right thing, he also had tremendous joy in his heart. Maybe it was a guy thing, but also felt a need to protect her. He wanted to make sure that nothing, and no one, would ever hurt her, not ever. He was in awe of the tremendous responsibility of this pledge, for life. It surrounded him, and he rejoiced. He was hoping and praying that God would help him to be a good husband.
Then it was her turn. “With this ring I thee wed.” She knew now, what it meant to love. She had been so hurt in the past. But as she slipped the ring onto his finger, she was thinking, “I trust you with my very life.” He knew this, and was humbled by it. She was also saying that she would always be faithful, and she was pledging herself to him. She was praying for children too. He was the best thing that ever happened to her, and she was not even nervous. The joy had overcome the fear. Her smile lit up the church.
They gave themselves to each other – completely. God answered their prayers they prayed that day.
It was not a perfect life over the years. There was tremendous struggle, and she almost died. She was sick a lot, for many years. He thought he was following God, at one point, and started going on the wrong path. Her love helped him to see. Their love still holds them together. Whenever they go through a difficult time, they simply look at the ring on their finger, and lift up a prayer.
Her mother spoke very softly to her now, “Rosa, sweetheart, don’t cry….Lucinda has turned out to be a beautiful woman. When you see her you will cry – but from joy.”
Her Momma continued, “I need you to do two things tonight”. “Yes?” Rosa listened intently. “I need you to go to church – it’s Christmas Eve, Rosa.” “You know how we used to do on Christmas Eve.” “Church?” “Are you crazy?” Rosa started talking to her mother like she did as a teenager. “They will call me a whore, and throw me out of there, Momma!” “Ssh, …Rosa calm down.” No they will not do that, calm down, ssh.” Her mother always did have a way of bringing peace to her.
Rosa looked at her mother’s face, and noticed a soft glow about her. “What else Momma?” “Rosa sweetheart this will take time, but you need to stop depending on men…and… how much they want you…. as the source of your value.” “You are valuable already, don’t think you are nothing if you don’t have a man…” Her Momma’s voice was trailing off now and she was turning grey again. “Momma?” The last thing she heard her mother say was “….remember Rosa you are already valuable….get someone to help you with this…” She faded, and was gone.
Fifteen minutes later, a half drunk Rosa was outside waiting for the bus that would take her 10 blocks to the Catholic Church. She couldn’t believe she was doing this, and she wasn’t sure where she was getting the courage from, but she was doing what her Momma had said.
When she got there she heard the bells playing Silent Night, and people were singing as she walked in. There was a warm glow about the place, like the warmth she remembered from the church in Mexico. Nobody called her any names, and no asked her to leave. In fact they appeared to be genuinely glad to see her, especially during the part where the congregation offers peace to each other, and shakes hands.
The buses were no longer running, after the service was over, so she walked home in the cold but she didn’t mind. She was thinking about what her mother had said the whole way. It was sinking in now, and she understood about not depending on someone else to give her value. It began snowing as she walked, and Rosa smiled. She loved the snow.
The first thing she did as she walked in the door of her apartment, was to take the bottle of pills and throw them in the trash. She breathed a sigh of relief, and said “Thanks Momma”. Then she looked up and said, “Thanks God…for… sending her my way.”
Rosa did find the courage to get some counseling. She is working on seeing herself as a whole person. It is a gradual process, but she is putting the pieces of her heart and emotions back together.
She has also located her daughter Lucinda, by using the computers at the library. Right now they are corresponding by email, and getting to know one another. In the future they will both meet, hug each other, and cry some great big tears. They will become very good friends, and Rosa will feel released from her past.
She has also been improving her English skills, and next week she is starting a new job as an administrative assistant, at the local community college. They love the fact that she can speak Spanish.
She has plans to buy her first laptop, and hopefully not only to write to bloggers, but begin her own blog. Her target will be women that need help realizing their full potential. She would like to call her blog, “Roses from Rosa”, and she is hoping that no one else is using that name yet.
Christmas blessings and peace to everyone! Feliz Navidad!
Microfiction in the spirit of the Christmas Season
Rosa Gonzalez was finished with living, it was simply too painful to keep going. Carlos had left her in the middle of night, and she thought he was a good one. Now she knew, there were no good ones. Love just didn’t make any sense, it was garbage.
She managed to get herself ready for work, and she forced herself to keep going. She walked down the street all bundled up, to her job at the fast food restaurant. She was going to end everything for sure, but right now she just needed more time to think about it.
It was a miserable day at work, with the younger women on her case again about being too slow. What made it worse was, they put her down in Spanish, so the manager never knew what they said. They called her names like “grandma”, and much worse, even though she was only 47. Their words were like knives, and hurt deeply. They only made her more determined to end it all.
As she walked home that evening she stopped by the drugstore, and bought some sleeping pills, realizing they would put her to sleep forever, just like she wanted. $6.99 was a small price to pay. She went out into the cold again, pulling down her knit hat, over her ears, and slipping on the gloves with holes in them.
What a terrible place to live she thought, Mexico had been difficult, but nothing like this. At least she had family back home, and the people were not mean to her. As she walked down the street she heard music, coming from somewhere. Were those church bells? For some reason she thought of the church she grew up in, and being a little girl, running around the village. She pushed those thoughts aside though.
When she got back to her apartment, she did try watching TV, looking for some hope. But the TV preachers made her sick to her stomach, talking about being wealthy, and that a Christian should never have any problems. “Nonsense”, she said, and she turned them off. After she had a few drinks, she prepared her table in the bedroom. She put the pills there, and her mother’s picture. She wanted her mother to be the last person she saw before passing away. She picked it up and held the picture close to her, with both arms embracing the image.
There was that music again – where was it coming from? It was like a choir singing close by. Was that Spanish she was hearing? She sat on the edge of the bed, thinking about her mother. Momma had passed away 20 years ago, but she still missed her so. For some reason she decided to wait on the pills until morning, she was half drunk, and tired. It was too much to think about. As she reached over to turn out the light, the music got louder. She sat in the dark and listened, holding her mother’s photograph.
Then, someone sat down next to her, on the bed. Out of the corner of her eye, she did not see anyone, but she felt their presence. As she slowly turned to look, she did see a faint outline – like maybe a shadow of a person. A grey shape turned to look at her, and became brighter, almost white, a soft shade of white. She could make out a woman’s hair, and then she recognized the face. The image said, “Rosa…”, Rosa was shaking now, and said “Momma?”
“Rosa you cannot do this…” “I have no choice Momma, I cannot deal with this pain anymore. And don’t tell me I have a lot to live for, because I don’t.” Her mother said, “Listen to me – Lucinda is looking for you, she wants to know her real mother.”
Hearing the name of the daughter she had given up for adoption, was too much for her, and all of the pain of giving her to someone else to raise, came like a flood. She was broken. All the guilt, all the sadness, washed over her, and she wept bitterly. She covered her face with her hands, and felt the shame of it all.
Later today the conclusion of Rosa Gonzalez! Christmas blessings and peace to you!
Mrs. Jeannette Thompson also went to the local police station to see if it were true that the police were looking for Bobby. “Ma’am – I told you twice already there is nothing on file for a Bobby Hendricks.” The Desk Sargent was a disagreeable man and he was becoming more agitated. “Not even as a missing person?”, she asked. “No ma’am – there – is – no – thing – in – our – data – base.” He said it slow on purpose, with a sarcastic tone. She decided to come back another day and talk to a different Desk Sargent, someone who would treat her like a human being.
The next day the information was the same. In the eyes of the police, Bobby Hendricks did not exist. That was good in a way, but why was he not listed as a missing person? Was it a computer problem? Was someone not doing their job? Did his Aunt and her husband report him as missing? She had no idea. One thing she knew for sure though, was that this was big, and she needed to pray about it. What was she supposed to do now?
She normally prayed at home, but this time she went to the church instead. She felt she needed extra help. Something was weighing on her, there was something she was supposed to do, but she was not sure what it was. As she walked in the front door of the church, she stopped at the picture on the wall of Mother Mary holding the Christ Child. It was becoming clearer now. She needed to be more of a mother to Bobby. She hurried to a pew and knelt down.
As she prayed she realized she had been holding back. She was trying to be his friend, but was she loving him? Or was she just trying to ease her conscience by being nice, and giving him food? Where was her commitment? And why on God’s green earth did she not get him off the streets? The answer struck her squarely in the head, and went down into her heart. Fear. It was all because of fear. If she loved him the way a Mom would, he might break her heart by stealing from her, or dying out on the streets. She was afraid, and she began weeping. She did not want to be this way, and realized she must ask him to stay at her house. She needed to open her house and her heart. It took courage, but she decided that she would ask him today.
She went through the neighborhood looking for him, and saw him coming out of the library. She asked him if he would like to come to her house, and would he like to stay there? His face lit up, he smiled, and said, “Sure!”. Later, in her living room, her with a cup of tea, and him with a bottle of soda, she asked him about the library.
He told he loved going there and reading. He went there all the time, though now nobody moved away from him, when he sat down. There was no more bad smell! His favorite subject was history. He loved history with a passion, and right now he was studying how the poverty of 18th century France had caused the French Revolution. Mrs. Thompson choked on her tea, and lost some of it to her living room rug. She had no idea he was this intelligent!
His other passion was studying Native Americans. He loved everything about them, but especially how they were so connected to the earth and nature. As he was sharing about their culture, she saw how he loved adventure, and smiled, thinking, “He probably knows about every tribe in North America”.
Jeannette Thompson became a mighty warrior in the battle against poverty. She opened her home not only to Bobby but a number of children over the years. Right after Bobby started living with her, she also took in a single mother that was seventeen, and had a three year old daughter. She had also recently defeated an addiction to cocaine. She needed a warm and safe place to live. Mrs. Thompson was like a mother to all of them.
She also inspired the church to take action. The church began opening its doors to the community, and especially during the winter, when people needed to get out of the cold at night. It was warm and safe.
The kitchen was expanded, and modernized. Men and women of the church formed what they called “Team Hope”, and served a good hot meal every day. The people of the church were not perfect, but over time they learned how to not judge people, to have compassion, and love people instead.
As for Bobby, he is trying to decide what college he will go to, and should he be a professor of history, or an anthropologist studying early Native Americans, or maybe….both?
The proudest moment of his life was yet to come, and was when he stood on stage graduating from St. Timothy’s Catholic High School. He saw his Mom (Jeannette Thompson) with hands raised high, looking at heaven and thanking God for this wonderful miracle. Both of their spirits soared high that day.
Microfiction in the spirit of the Christmas Season
He jumped. He looked up with terror in his eyes. Should he run? Would she call the police? “Do you have something I could eat?” He couldn’t believe it came out of his mouth, but too late, it did.
A few minutes later they were in the church office, where she told him to make himself at home, and that she would be down in the kitchen looking for some food. In the refrigerator, she found some lunchmeat, and cheese on a platter, and in the cupboard she found crackers that had been saved for the bishop’s upcoming visit. She took them anyway. She thought out loud, “…and some tea would be nice…” “Do boys drink tea?” She went for a cold soda instead.
When she brought back the platter of food, and the soda, he was stunned. It was crackers and cheese – American cheese, along with some turkey. His prayer had been answered and then some. Tears welled up in his eyes, but he said nothing.
They talked for a while about everything, while he ate. Sometimes he talked with his mouth full of food. He was too hungry to worry about manners, besides if she had called the police, he would have to leave in a hurry. It was his turn to take a chance, and he let her know that the police were after him, for stealing.
She did not flinch, but said, “What did you steal?”, “Food, just food” he said, and that was the truth. They talked more about his family, foster parents, how long had he been on the streets? She was shocked when he told her three years, off and on. Sometimes he was caught and sent to social services. He hated living with foster parents, so he would just run away again.
“What about the shelters?”, she asked. “Too dangerous – people get raped and stabbed, and everything else there.” Again she was shocked. He told her he would have to lie to get in, and say that he was the son of one of the men, otherwise the police were called. He usually only stayed for a few days, got some food, a hot shower, and he was on his way again.
After he was done eating (the platter of lunchmeat and cheese was gone!) he wanted to leave. She asked him one thing before he left. “If I gave you all the food you wanted, would you stop stealing?” He thought about that for a moment, but said, “Yes”.
They met every day at the church, where he ate and they both talked. He told her where he had stolen food from. There were two convenience stores, and the local organic market (the food was much better there). There was also the fancy Italian restaurant on Culver Avenue, where they gave him food at the back door, all because he threatened to cause a scene at the front door and tell customers waiting that he got food poisoning by eating there.
The more they talked the more they became friends. His name was Bobby Hendricks. She not only brought food everyday (with plenty of leftovers) but fresh clothing. At the church he was able to wash up at the sink, and he started feeling human again.
Bobby did not know it, but over a two week period Mrs. Thompson went to the each of the places that Bobby had stolen food from. Many of the thefts they did not know about, but she made a list of estimated costs, and the amounts from what Bobby had described. The bill for the organic grocery store alone was $387.00. At each place she handed the store manager a list, and a check for the items taken. The people were shocked, and some wouldn’t take her money, until she insisted.
The last chapter of this series will be next time. Peace to you!
Microfiction in the spirit of the Christmas Season.
He slipped quietly into the old church at the corner of 4th and Main Street. It was his Christmas tradition, and he was looking forward to it, but he was hoping that no one else would be there. It was warm inside, just the way he remembered. Good he thought, he was alone as he walked down the aisle and into a pew about middle way down. The lights were dim and he felt safe.
He was 12 now, and for the past three years, this was his once a year prayer time. Normally he did not pray, other than an occasional “help” or “I’m hungry”. This year he didn’t have any foster parents, but last year he had to run away in order to be here. He couldn’t stand those people anyway. It was a couple of hours until the big Christmas Eve service, but he didn’t waste any time getting down to the praying.
He knelt, and started with Aunt Margaret. She worked so hard, two jobs in fact, just to live at the apartment with her new husband who was a drunk. He couldn’t take the beatings anymore, so he promised himself he would never go back there. He prayed hard, he did, for Aunt Margaret that God would help her, and that if she needed to leave there too, that He would give her the strength. He asked God to help her to quit smoking, (he hated the smell) and that one day they would not only see each other, but maybe…..well if it was ok…..maybe they could live together. “And please God, give us a place where there are no bugs trying to eat our food”.
It was difficult to pray for his Mom. He hadn’t seen her for years and it was hard to remember now, what she looked like. The only thing he could pray for her, was that God would help her to get off drugs. He unexpectedly cried over this. He had thought before that he was done crying over it, but no – the tears came again. He was praying softly, out loud now. “…..God please help her….”
He prayed for his father, even though he didn’t know who he was. He knew he was out there somewhere, and he thought he should care enough to pray. He was hoping that he was a good man, and not in prison somewhere.
He couldn’t pray for the many foster parents he had had, he just couldn’t. It wasn’t in him to pray for those people. Still kneeling, he was silent. He felt something though, inside like a warmth, and he said, “…ok….I’ll pray for them too”, even if it was grudgingly, he let it fly.
Lastly he prayed for himself. He was asking God for a new coat…. “and could I have some… cheese and crackers?” “I like American cheese the best, but any cheese is good…” Since he was praying softly out loud, he did not hear Mrs. Jeanette Thompson come quietly in a side door, carrying another poinsettia plant to place near the front of the church.
She didn’t notice him at first but she heard a whispering sound, and turned to see who it was. She saw him praying and realized she had seen him before, running around the neighborhood. She smelled him now too, even though he was a good fifty feet away. She put the plant down, and decided to take a chance.
She walked softly, trying not to scare him, and tears began streaming down her face. Maybe it was the fact that she was a widow now, or maybe it was the fact that her only son was out in California caring for nothing other than making a lot of money, or maybe it was because she just loved children, she did not know what it was, but she cared for this boy.
With his eyes closed, he still did not notice her. She stood next to him, bent down, and whispered, “Can I help you?”
Part II of The Child Nobody Wanted, tomorrow. Peace!