Another Sunday Story that was painful to write, but true.
She takes my hand, quietly and gently pulls me along, not like my other mothers who always grabbed me so hard and yelled and accused then gave me away.
It does’t make any difference though. No matter how kind she is, I dig my nails into her palm and anchor my heels to the floor and mumble that I hate her and that I always will.
I’m bad. She can try and try, but I’m terrified that she won’t be able to change that I’m just bad.
They told me so. And now I believe them.
“Jordan,” she says softly. “Come on. She’s waiting.”
“I don’t care,” I growl though tight teeth.
But I do care. All the kids like me who say they don’t care really do care and I hope someone helps me before it isn’t a lie anymore.
She continues to urge me forward, ignoring the nails in her hand and the heels in the floor. In these past months she’s been ignoring a lot of things.
And then suddenly we are at the door and the woman is in the bed with the blankets wrapped tightly around her and one arm in a cast and bandages on her head and black eyes and I know that I have done this and that I am bad and that I care.
The woman turns her head toward us and I am terrified.
But really I don’t.
I fear. I regret. I wish. I hurt. So much.
My new mother’s grip is still gentle but more firm. She moves me toward the woman in the bed and I dig my nails and my heels in harder but it is no use. I am so tired. And this mother is not yet. She still thinks she can make me good.
And I want her to.
But I don’t know how to make it easy.
Somehow then we are at the bedside and the woman is reaching for me and her bruised face is soft and giving and I want to deserve soft and giving but it is so rarely offered that I think I don’t.
“Hi there,” she says in a scratched voice.
I do not reply.
I fear. I regret. I wish. I hurt.
I am sorry.
And I have said it out loud without knowing it and I am crying and shaking and the woman is telling me that I don’t have to be sorry. She is saying that it wasn’t my fault and she is reaching for me and before I know it I am climbing into the bed with her and she is moving over, giving me room for grief and love.
She is saying something that is easing the tightness in my chest. She is saying that right before she swerved to miss me, as I ran through traffic frantic to escape the bus ride with kids who hate me, she had been looking down at text messages and that if she had been looking up she would have seen me so much sooner. She would have seen me in time, just like the other two cars around us, and she too would have been able to stop and would not have had to swerve at such a high speed, hitting that guardrail, doing all of this damage.
She is saying, “It’s not your fault sweetheart. I wasn’t looking.”
“But I’m bad,” I tell her as I cry and cry and cry out nine years of living without being wanted.
“We all have some bad and some good, but most of us have mostly good. You do too,” she says.
“I ran into the street,” I say through choked sobs, though the pain of six different placements before I am even ten years old.
“And I wasn’t looking,” she tells me.
And then she whispers something I can't understand because I am only nine and I can’t even read and I have scars on my belly and I am twelve pounds underweight.
She says, “I think lots of people haven’t been looking when you’re running Jordan. So it was time you finally stopped one of us.”