Thursday, April 2, 2009

I was 9 years old that summer

I was 9 years old that summer and I signed up to play softball with my best friend. There were 2 coaches~ 1 man, 1 woman, both in their early 20s, unmarried, no children, both were juvenile probation officers. Looking back I wonder why the decided to coach a girls softball team, but I do realize there was some sort of ‘divine intervention’ in being assigned to their team.

Each week I looked forward to the practices and the games. John and Phoebe were kind and patient and it wasn’t long before I became quite attached to Phoebe. She would take some of the team to McDonald’s after a game and buy us ice cream cones.

There were times I would take the bus to the police station where she worked and sit in her office while she finished paperwork, and then we would go to her apartment and just sit and talk. I loved this woman; she was so beautiful and so kind to me. When I wasn’t with Phoebe I used to daydream about what my life would be like is she was my mom. And in my dreams, Phoebe loved me and took care of me~ she never let anyone hurt me! She would take care of me when I got sick and give me medicine and tuck me into bed. She would buy me beautiful dresses with matching hair bows and shoes. In my dreams I felt loved and cared for by Phoebe…and in my dreams I was safe.

But then one day my dreams ended abruptly. Phoebe and I were sitting in her apartment and she told me she was moving to a new city, 3 hours away from me. Three hours away? She might as well have moved to the moon! I desperately wanted her to tell me she had decided she was taking me with her; I listened carefully to her words, waiting to hear her say it. She loved me! She wouldn’t leave me. Not with them. She couldn’t, she wouldn’t. But she didn’t say it. Instead she told me that she would write to me and she would never forget about me.
And just like that, she was gone, and she wasn’t coming back. Every day, fingers crossed, I checked the mail hoping for a letter from Phoebe. Sometimes it was the only thing I had to look forward too. And about once a month I would find a letter in the mail~and each time a letter arrived, I would hold it close to my heart and sit on my bed, looking at my name on the envelope. And I would held the envelope with the letter still sealed inside, turn it over and run my hand over it…wondering what she had to say, secretly hoping that ‘this’ was the letter where she would tell me she was coming back for me, that she had to leave me behind so she could get things set up for ‘us’ and now she was coming back for me.

This is what I was thinking one afternoon as I held her newest letter in my hands, drinking in the warmth I felt…she still remembered me, she still cared! The warm feeling disappeared as I started to read her words. She was getting married? How could she get married? Now she would forget me! She would get married and have her own baby and she wouldn’t want me anymore! Why would she do this to me? Didn’t she understand how much I needed her? I folded the letter, put it under my pillow and curled myself up into the smallest ball possible and began to cry. It was in that moment that I knew I would never escape, I would never be ‘rescued’~ and that moment reaffirmed for me what I already knew. I was a bad, shameful little girl who didn’t deserve to be loved. No one would ever love me, or care about me, not even God cared about me. It was on that day that I felt my heart close and the flicker of hope that I had held onto so tightly fizzled out. And I vowed that I would never allow myself to love or care about anyone again. Never again would I allow myself to care about another person, nothing was worth the stabbing pain I felt at that moment. I hated Phoebe that day. She was just like my mother~I had been traded in for a man.

Phoebe did get married. She married a man who already had two children, a girl my age, Bonnie and a boy, Christopher a couple of years younger. She had a family now, a family that I would never be a part of. And I hated Bonne! She took my place~ that was supposed to be me~ Phoebe was supposed to be my mom, not hers! It wasn’t fair... Now Bonnie would have the life that I never had, she would feel safe and loved, and I would still be shivering in the darkness of the night. Hated and abused…and I knew that no one cared. Because I didn’t matter!

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