I was seven. We were in the same class and she lived across the street from me. I would run to her place instead of ‘home’ after school and we would play dolls in her bedroom. When my Mom found out she hit me, punished me. I stopped going.
Several days after I had stopped, I passed her door on my way ‘home’ and saw my cat lying next to her front door, a shoestring tied around its neck, barely alive. I picked her up and ran ‘home’ removing her noose. She lived.
I told my Mom who confronted my friends Dad, to find out if they were responsible. My friend admitted to it. We never talked again, not even in class. I never understood the cruelty.
Not too longer after this we were on the move again. One day my Mom was reading a newspaper and came across a news story about a little girl that had been murdered close to where we used to live. She was talking about it with one of her friends while I listened. She had been scalded in bathtub, raped and strangled.
It was my friend.
My Mom had left the newspaper on a table. When she left the room I picked it up and read the article over and over and over again. I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel. When I had my fill of rereads I vowed in my little girl heart never to read a newspaper ever again.
I read instead gum wrappers, cartoons, magazines, books and street signs on the highway that were lit up at night, trying to remember the names of every exit. We always seemed to be on the freeway in a car in the middle of the night, cigarette smoke clouding the windows, my eyes sleepy, my hands holding onto a small blue teddy bear missing one brown eye, the one item I was always allowed to bring when everything else had to be left behind.
What am I grateful for?
Understanding cruelty. Pain is designed to be expressed. I have been trained to ‘see’ it and to know it exists not from the affluence of evil but from the gross absence of love.
Understanding that He trains us to prepare us to be effective performers.
Understanding that what one is not effective at in their life is sometimes an indication that it may not be what one was trained to do.
It is in life’s confusion then that we must be silver linings unto ourselves and so unto one another.