As I was waiting on my tea this morning, I checked the thermometer on the deck. It was 27 degrees outside. The weatherman spoke of dense fog and patches of ice. The ODOT traffic guy warned morning commuters of the potential for accidents. The day was young and crisp. Sunlight was still creeping its way toward the foot of Mt. Hood and was yet to be seen. I’ve come to realize that dense fog means sunshine once it burns off and I was looking forward to a cold, sunlit day.
I dropped Auburn Aries off at school. Once she gets out of my car, I roll down the passenger window and we do our usual morning exchange as she walks toward the front steps of the school.
AA: Be unflappable, Mommy
AP: I’ll be unflappable if you will
AA: Okay, I’ll be unflappable then
AP: [placing a peace-sign made with my right hand over my heart] Peace in your heart, Little One.
AA: [placing a peace-sign over her heart] Peace in your heart, Mommy
With that, I drive away from the school watching her in my rearview mirror to make sure she gets inside before I actually pull away.
The sunlight had already made its way through the fog. I reached into my laptop bag for my Oakleys. As the darkness of winter approaches, I cling tight-fisted to each sun break for soon they will be gone until spring.
I awoke this morning to the tug of extremely strong spiritual cords as well. I could feel Young Stud before his eyes were even open. I could feel Daddy D. It was stronger than usual which served to remind me I need to be somewhat guarded today since I was nothing more than a huge receiver for emotion and all things spiritual.
I drove to work listening to music and feeling great. As I approached a red light, standing on the corner was a girl around 10 years old. She was wearing a knit cap and gloves and had a scarf wrapped around her neck.
She was crying.
I took a double take to make sure she wasn’t just squinting from the bright morning sun. A little girl crying on a busy corner is not normal. She was definitely crying. Her pain pierced into me like a sword. I don’t know what caused her pain but she was distraught.
Where was this girl’s Mom? Why was she walking alone to school? Are people so gawd damn naïve that they actually let their cute little daughters walk to school alone? Do these idiots not watch the fucking news? Hell college students turn up missing. You turn your back for a moment and that’s it - no second chance, no taking your 10 year old to school ever again. As long as I draw breath, Aries will never walk to school alone. Ever.
I am so cognizant that it only takes one moment, one wacko, one mistake and she’d be gone forever. My life would be over.
The little girl on the corner was away from home and her Mother probably had no idea she was hurting. Or did she? Was it possible her Mom could be a big enough disconnected asshole to actually send her daughter on her way to school alone, while she’s emotionally unstable and needs someone there for her? Was it something at home that was troubling her? Had someone hurt her? Was she scared?
I tried to process the feed I was getting from the little girl as quickly as I could, but I couldn’t get any images from her. Nothing was clear. There was only pain.
I needed to stop my car and check on her but I was on the inside lane, the light turned green and I was amidst traffic. I tried to get over, to no avail.
I lingered just long enough to see a minivan with what looked like two women in it pull up to her. I felt a sigh come over me. It wasn’t mine, it was the little girl's. It was tentative but released nonetheless. Her school was nearby, I did know that.
It occurred to me at that moment that in as much as the woman in the minivan pulled up to help, what good could it have actually done? Though I felt relief on some level, it’s also the one thing we tell our children not to do. Don’t speak to strangers. People who pull up in next to you in cars are likely to grab you so run away.
They are all pearls of wisdom but seriously… if someone tries to abduct your kid and your kid gets away they are supposed to run to the first person they see who looks “trustworthy” to get help. I can pretty much guarantee you that person will be a stranger. That then begs the question of how do you tell “good strangers” from “bad strangers.”
I felt immediately angry. Frustrated. Hell, I don’t know. I was overwrought with a flood of emotion. This world has become such a fucked up place that decent, compassionate people like myself who see a little girl that needs help don’t feel comfortable helping her because it would frighten her. Who should she trust?
There are so many freaks and addicts and low-lifes that suck the humanity out of our existence that people like you and I stand alone, strapped down, involuntarily bound from random acts of kindness. Trust but don’t trust. Love but be careful who you love. Give but don’t give too much.
I’m done. I’m tired of hearing about it. I may only be one person and my contribution may never make a difference to anyone other than my daughter, but she will be raised believing that there is good in people and being caring and loving and giving and compassionate carries its own rewards.
It’s time we, the compassionate part of the human race, step up our random acts of kindness until we squeeze out the trash in the world. It’s an uphill battle and I know it, but we need to believe in each other again. Human decency should be the norm, not the other way around.
Had I been able to get to that little girl this morning, I would have. Knowing me, I probably would have given her my business card so that she could let her parents know this nice lady stopped to see if she was okay. At least they could have called to make sure I was normal…
It’s time to increase our random acts of kindness until people start believing in human decency again. It’s time to be the light of the Universe until we can fix what’s broken. Whether it’s in this life or the next.