Burned beyond recognition
No fixed address
These words are the eulogy of a life snuffed out far too soon.
Her body was discovered a month before they knew it was her. Her life was stolen from her for many years before she died.
Resilient--as humans tend to be--she survived poverty, divorce, abandonment, foster care, abuse upon abuse, addiction, homelessness and a system that all but forgot her.
She had a baby girl who changed my life.
Her laugh was precious, a treasure shining through cracks of a broken life.
She was sweet, so eager to please, so willing to learn, so impressionable.
Maybe too impressionable.
She was taken advantage of. She abused her own body because so many others had.
She made wrong choices, but who among us doesn't.
She saw a chance for new life in her baby girl's eyes.
She told me of her dreams of getting better, moving home, getting married, having more babies. A little brother maybe for the baby girl.
Suddenly, because she had a child, the system was interested in her well-being. And for the first time, it actually helped her.
But the system cannot give deliverance. The system cannot give healing. The system cannot make new.
Only One can.
I hope with every bit of my broken heart that she met Him before she left.
I took her to church, prayed for and with her, told her that God could help her, that He loved her.
I hoped for a permanent change in her life. She wanted it so badly, was so determined, so in love.
Now her ashes lie in a cold case. Her name strewn about, tied to a mug shot that hides such neglected beauty.
My tears are hot and bitter, burning my cheeks.
My stomach is a mess of knots.
My baby girl smiles at me.
(She's used to seeing me cry.)
How could they? How could her parents not do everything in their power to protect her? How do you bring a life into the world and abandon it? How do you steal someone's innocence? How do you supply drugs and alcohol to someone's baby girl? How do you put someone's body in a dumpster and set it on fire?
In the place of judgement,
Wickedness was there;
And in the place of righteousness,
Iniquity was there.
And worse, the questions burning in my heart!
Why didn't I call her more often? Why didn't I insist more persuasively that she come stay with me? Why didn't I answer the phone when I saw it was her? Why was I too tired or busy to watch her baby, to deal with her? What words (Words?) could I have said to help her choose to stay in rehab and off the streets?
I know it's not my fault. Not directly. I could've done all of the above and the outcome might not have changed.
Yes, in the sense that I have lived willfully ignorant of the person behind that mug shot. She is on the news in every city. Her deaths unsolved, unimportant. She lives and works on streets all over the world, even mine. I drive by or change the channel and think how blessed I am.
This, I know I can help with. This story, I will tell her.
I hope my baby girl will someday know how much God loves that person behind the mug shot, that woman of no fixed address. I pray she will never hesitate to reach out in love to those around her.
This, too, I know I will have a hand in. Because my baby girl will only know it if she sees me live it out. And that's what I will do.
Rest in peace, my friend. You changed my life, and I will never forget yours.
(To read more about Baby F and her mom, E, you can either go to the 2010 Archives and read February's blogs, or go to the Label section and click on "Baby F." She is currently in the custody of her mom's cousin, and has been for the better part of the year. She is in very good hands and we hope she stays there for a long time to come.)
(Tomorrow's blog is much, much cheerier!)