Thursday, December 13, 2007

two little girls, pt 2

Because I know her story now belongs to all of you:

I woke up cold yesterday thinking of her so I spent several hours researching options and phoning in favors. The kids are on the floor, it's cold. But this close to Christmas the rooms at the inns are already so full. No one's fault really, there are hundreds of little girls just like her already holding tight to the little some of us can provide. But after a couple of hours of scheming and negotiations I struck pay dirt, a room that can hold all of them in a program two towns over. A room they can move into tomorrow.

Unable to reach the family until we open the site back up in the evening I accept this program on their behalf, knowing all the while that it's their decision and all I can do is present them the option and let them decide. But feeling victorious, we tackle how to get them there at the appointed time if the answer is yes. So we arrange for the ride still knowing all the while it's not up to us.

I am waiting for them when they walk in the door. The kids aren't doing so well today, the cold is wearing them down, one is crying, M's friend is half asleep and her nose is running. Mom looks so tired. I might have been grinning when I saw them but if you ask me about it later I'll lie and tell you I was simply doing my job.

We sit down together at a table and I carefully share the news prefaced with the understanding that they are in no way obligated to accept and with apologies for not being able to include them in the process. They listened quietly, mom starting to cry. I shared all that I knew: a well reputed program, a private room, they can all stay together, it's free and they can stay up to three months, it's out of the cold, it's for families and it's better than here. I told them I'd let them discuss it as a family and I stand up to give them some space but the mom blurts out we'll take it, and the dad nods his head. Yes. But celebrations are mixed since the kids are sick. I watched M's friend have a meltdown, her little body exhausted from endless bus rides and drafty cold rooms, long walks in the cold and a lack of nutritious food. Her mom gently laid her down on her mat with a blanket folded up to make a pillow, the noise and the lights unwavering still. She looked so much like M in that moment, three year old girls are the same everwhere I suppose.

So today is a good day and a scary day, this family who will be placing their faith in strangers who will drop them off at a strange place with people they do not know. And these people will welcome them in and give them food and blankets and clothes and toys and they will work with them to find jobs and increase their income, to get the older daughter in school and to allow them some time to heal. And if the stars align it will stick and it will be the edge they need and they'll move from there into their own home and they'll never see the inside of one of these places again, but that's sometimes the stuff of fairy tales and we won't know till we know. But for now there's a happy ending, and we'll take what we can.

63 comments:

Annie said...

I have a three year old daughter, today she is also sick - I can't imagine what that family is going through. I thank God that I can take her to her doctor's appointment and can return to our home, safe. I thank Him for you, and for others like you that have helped this little girl.

We've had a shake up in our health insurance plan - it is a negative change and it has upset me for a few days - reading your story yesterday, and this one today has really given me the perspective I needed. Thank you, again.

Hetha said...

This made me smile through tears jen. I also thank God for you and your ability to be so good at what you are doing, which is the most noble work any of us could ever do.

Arwen said...

You rock.

Julie Pippert said...

Jen, thank you. Thank you for caring for them, thank you for understanding we care about them, and thank you for updating.

I am choked up, literally, with a tangle of different emotions. But I will say only the thing about hope and how much of it I have for them.

Julie
Using My Words

Momish said...

What a remarkable story, and I do hope it ends like a fairytale for them. It breaks my heart. And yet, knowing you and so many others are there is somehow comforting to me. I feel selfish and petty around this time of year because it pains me to think about others out there in this type of situation. So I don't.

Thanks for the eye opening push, friend.

Emily said...

I am hatching a post on this, but I wanted to share it with you:

I have been ungrateful for all I have. Lately, though, I try to remind myself that, no matter how much this or that annoys me, I am lucky because my children have warm beds at night. That's just the mantra I keep repeating to make myself less of an ungrateful brat.

I will carry this little girl's story with me. Thank you for sharing it.

liv said...

jen, lovey, you're a good woman. i mean that in a meaty, substantial way: your goodness inspires me, sister.

meno said...

Thank you for doing this for them. You are awesome. Maybe you could let us know how they are doing if you should find out in the future.

kristen said...

you. you.

feel that hug? it's from me. xo

PeterAtLarge said...

Here's one more you had weeping with your story. Is there somewhere I can send a little money to help those you help? I have my own outlets, of course, but would love to stretch that little bit further to help these little girls. Please let me know, if you can find the time.

Mad Hatter said...

Keep talking, Jen. Keep writing. I hang on these words.

Mayberry said...

Thank you so much for continuing to share this story, and the others. You've really done so much to open a great many eyes.

Blog Antagonist said...

Sometimes...I can almost believe there is a God. And then I start thinking...then why did he let them become homeless in the first place???

Whatever. I know I can believe in people like you.

Blog Antagonist said...

Sometimes...I can almost believe there is a God. And then I start thinking...then why did he let them become homeless in the first place???

Whatever. I know I can believe in people like you.

RLGelber said...

You are a good soul!

Andrea said...

Well done.

Andrea

Amy Barry said...

Please keep us posted. I hope this works out for them for the long term. When I hear success stories like this (and it is a success story, at least for chapter 1) I think you must have such a rewarding job. But I am sure for every story like this, there are 10 others that do not end (or start) so well. And I even have trouble call it a good start. Good in comparison to how much worse it could be for them. A small success compared to all of their many needs, and yet it must feel huge to them. I pray their path continues to open up before them and leads them to a better, more secure life.

Kudos to you for a job well done! If only all of us would continue working past the clock when it is important like this. And thanks for once again taking me out of my comfort zone. I feel that stick in my side again poking me, reminding me that we need to do more (on a personal level) to help people in situations like this.

I think my calling is to someday be a foster parent. Someday because I want my kids to be old enough to deal with sharing our home and family with a stranger who may stay but may go. I really need to start pursuing some education for myself on this front soon though. Maybe sooner would be better than later to start.

Oops - I'm rambling. You make my mind start spinning though. You make me want to stop being merely sympathetic and empathetic and start acting on those feelings. Keep up inspiring us all! And if you have suggestions for how we can get involved and help - I'm sure I am not the only one craving that information!

Magpie said...

Good job - I hope it works out for them.

painted maypole said...

thank you for telling us. and for all that you do.

i like to think of that mother, now with a room to close the door on, to soothe her children, to turn out the light and lie down next to them, rubbing their backs, soothing their colds and their souls, and dreaming of a new life, a new chance.

Orangeblossoms said...

thank you....


thank you for all that you do.....

love,
orangeblossoms

bgirl said...

wow, you are a blessing to those you help and those of us that learn through your efforts.

sending you strength to you, so that you can continue to give on the level you do.

bgirl said...

wow, you are a blessing to those you help and those of us that learn through your efforts.

sending you strength to you, so that you can continue to give on the level you do.

Mrs. Chicky said...

This story made my heart ache. But I suppose that's a good thing. If more people were touched by stories like this maybe more would be done to help. You help so much. We all need to get involved now.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Oops, I meant to add this...

But how? How do we help?

Beck said...

I am SO GLAD to hear that they're someplace safe and warm and hopefully on the road to someplace better. I was too distraught after reading yesterday's post to even comment, and I'm so glad for a happier ending.

Kyla said...

Sick babies. My heart.

You did good, jen.

Cathy said...

You just gave me goosebumps.

I'm so glad you updated us.

FENICLE said...

Wow, what a touching post. I had to go back and catch up on what I had missed. I'm so glad I clicked over here today. I needed that story! Thank you!!

Joker The Lurcher said...

i've been trying so hard not to think of all the people in this situation and others just as bleak.

i'm still off work and not much better and the worry about the children was the worst of it. i'm so glad you are carrying on with what you do.

please take good care of your self. if you crumble all those people do too...

Ally said...

I offer this prayer.

Dear God:

I'll never understand this world, where babes go hungry and have nothing but cold mats upon which to rest.

Even so, I thank you for Jen, and so many like her. People who jump out of bed in the morning, determined to help, willing the world to be a better, kinder, gentler place.

God, I ask you this favor: be with this mother, this father, these little girls. Bless the next three months of respite, shelter, and care. Grant to them jobs, health, warm meals, laughter, togetherness, safety, healing, and wholeness. Let them know that they are loved.

God, in your mercy,

Hear this prayer.

Aliki2006 said...

I just read this and your previous post as well. This is awful--I wish something could be done right this instant to help those girls and all kids like them who are, in cities all over the world right now, going without.

Please let us know what happens. Thank god for people like you.

Lawyer Mama said...

Thank god. Sweetie, I woke up at 4 am this morning and couldn't stop thinking about that family.

Janet said...

Thank God.

crazymumma said...

I just read the last two posts.

And I breathed a sigh of relief that they have a small respite.

Imagining us, in that situation, with our children? Inconceivable.

Knowing the injustice of a world that has anyone, let alone a child homeless, bedless. Is unbearable.

cinnamon gurl said...

Good job, Jen. And thank you for sharing this part of their story with us.

Karen said...

Jen - thank you for that, for letting us see what you did, what you do, what can be done. I'll be hoping this sticks for them.

Christine said...

oh thank goodness!

thank goodness.

thank goodness for you.

Running on empty

Pgoodness said...

you are awesome. thanks for updating us. 3 months of relative comfort must have been so overwhelming to them. thank you for helping them and for giving faces and stories to homelessness.

Kellan said...

I love that you always come over to see me. I feel so privileged that you always come over to get me and bring me back here. I always think about you - I do - like I am drawn to you and yet I can't easily get to you - I hate it, but here I am and ... I am crying as I write.

I loved this sad story - I read the last two posts as well and it is a sad story. But I was so happy with the ending - the ending you made happen (or a beginning) for this poor family. I am relieved and I am so sad and angry. I am thankful that you were there for them and that your sweet little M was there to play with this tiny girl.

I truly love to read your stories and I am a huge fan of your writing, but I think I most drawn to the compassion and passion that comes through in your writing.

You have a gift and I think you are a gift - you are a gift to me. Thanks for coming to get me. I will be back and when I am gone for a while it is only because I have to come over the mountain to see you. Take care my friend. And continue to take care all those wandering and lost souls. See you soon. Kellan

carrie said...

I'm rooting on the side of fairy tales in this case.

Family Adventure said...

My friend, you make the world a much, much better place.

I have no words to express my appreciation.

Heidi

cce said...

Yes, please, let this fairy tale end in happiness. And thanks again for reminding us all that we are lucky and fortunate and our woes are insignificant. I especially needed the reality check. I can really dig in to some self pity this time of year! You've snapped me out of it and I'm hoping that M's friend is better soon and happily on her way to a new home.

cce said...

Yes, please, let this fairy tale end in happiness. And thanks again for reminding us all that we are lucky and fortunate and our woes are insignificant. I especially needed the reality check. I can really dig in to some self pity this time of year! You've snapped me out of it and I'm hoping that M's friend is better soon and happily on her way to a new home.

Karen Forest said...

I'm in tears.....and so early in the morning too.

I wish I had so much more to give.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

You are awesome, thank you for all that you do and for sharing it.

Jennifer said...

More tears, for the knowledge that there are so many more out there. But a happy heart for this family, at least for now. This family has been so much on my mind and in my heart. You are making such a difference, Jen. I hope you take some time to feel really good about all you do.

The Expatriate Chef said...

You are amazing. You make me want to be a better person, do more, be more in the world. Thank you for all you do.

nengaku said...

I had a few homeless periods in my younger years and it was people like you who inspired me to not give up. When I was deciding on a career the gratitude I felt for people like you helped me to chose social work. I never regretted that decision.
Peace.
And THANK YOU for all you do.

Kelly said...

I've been weepy tonight, and this started the tears again. I can never get past my stupid disbelief that this is reality for some families, and how goddamn unfair it is.

But, a glimmer of hope amongst the difficulty, a star in a dark sky. I'm hoping and praying that this next step is the first step up and up and up.

Amy Y said...

Oh thank you for sharing that happy ending... Or at least not making me cry again. ;) I hope it sticks...

thailandchani said...

I'm really glad to know you were able to create an at least marginally good outcome for them. Knowing they will be warm and safe.. if only for 3 months.. is a positive thing.

flutter said...

you inspire in ways I am certain you will never ever fully know, beautiful protector spirit.

nomotherearth said...

Just read this story now. We are very very lucky there are people in the world like you. Thank you.

blooming desertpea said...

Woohoo! Isn't this the greatest Christmas gift ever!

TIV: the individual voice said...

That is so great you got them a room for three months. That's a good window of time to try to find work and more stability. You do such good work.

Redneck Mommy said...

Thank God for people like you.

You really are an angel.

I miss you.

KC said...

This is what this season should be all about. Actually, all year.

mamatulip said...

I love you, Jen.

I truly do.

Susanne said...

Thank you for telling this story. (Both sides of it.)

Jenn said...

This morning, I was thinking I was annoyed with my furnace; it gets so hot upstairs in my bedroom.

My bedroom. Where I lay my head on a pillow each night. A roof, my roof, over my head.

I wish I could save them. All of them.

ms chica said...

Thanks for posting a follow-up. Yes, children are far wiser than we are.

mitzh said...

Wishing for more and more happy endings to come.

You are awesome, Jen. A true inspiration...

Tis I. said...

"...her little body exhausted from endless bus rides and drafty cold rooms, long walks in the cold and a lack of nutritious food."

I THANK GOD for You, Jen. That you would even realize this.

I thank God for you.