Friday, January 30, 2015

A Cinderella story

The faded look in Crystal's eyes, signaling that she was almost invisible, nudged me to offer her mother a ride home. I must confess that when I heard her mother from the back of  the restaurant ask to borrow someone's cell, I ignored it, thinking it was a scam.

When personally solicited, the older woman behind me said she really didn't understand, dismissing, I think, the hispanic accent. It was clear what the woman wanted. I pulled my phone out and walked over. She looked eternally grateful and explained that she had no ride, a dead cell phone and no access to any of the phone numbers of people who could help, except one. She called twice from mine and received no answer.

That's when she deposited the weary, but wise-looking five-year-old with me so she could run next door to the phone store and buy a cord. Though she was quick, I connected with Crystal, showed her pictures of my daughters and learned she had been hospitalized for asthma. She reached for the "Childrens' Hospital" bag stuffed with breathing treatments.

Her mother had no luck finding the right cord, so I asked where she lived. "Mason," came the reply. "I'm heading to Milford," I said, almost dismissing this chance. Almost. I quickly reconsidered and estimated I had at least an hour before I was expected anywhere. "I can take you home," I finally volunteered and was almost met with tears. Almost. Those would come later.

As the woman who would not become involved and another listened, I understood they were ready as well. We learned that the mother and daughter had spent four days in the hospital and been left after the mother and her ex argued.

Crystal was fading fast and needed to be home. So did mom; she'd taken her daughter to a hospital satellite near home, but both were transported via ambulance to Children's because the attack was severe. Neither expected to be gone from home that long. As we prepared to leave, I asked the mother's name. "Cinderella," she whispered. I repeated it, making certain I heard correctly.

Saying the name silently to myself made me smile. I'm taking Cinderelle home. Who will believe it?

When I told my youngest, she responded: "So, what was she wearing?" 14-year-old code meaning "I don't believe you, mother." My 17-year-old said: "Weren't you afraid?" No, I replied, but I don't think I would have offered had you been in the car. I did look in my rearview mirror once to make certain the ex wasn't behind.

During the 15-minute drive, which really was not that much out of my way, I got more of the story. Someone had phoned the father and he turned up at the hospital. Crystal had asked her mother when he would come home. Through beautiful wet eyelashes, Cinderella fell apart. We both knew the father shouldn't come home. But Crystal was too young to understand. Really, what father would leave his ex and daughter as they were just returning from the hospital?

The odd things is, he lives in my suburb and works at one of the local Mexican restaurants. She gave me a pretty good description. "If I ever see him," I told Cinderella, "I will give him a piece of my mind."

Soon we turned into a neat, little trailer park and I pulled up to a neat little lot with a cute, pint-sized home and they got out. The grandmother had been tending the three-year-old. "Thank you," Cinderella said, unloading Crystal, her stuffed animal and bag of treatments. That's all they had with them. 

Thank you, I said to God, for allowing me to help in this small way.

On my way home, my phone hummed with an unrecognizable number. I answered and soon understood from the accent that it was whomever Cinderella had called. He apologized for not answering, but was working construction and this was the first chance he'd had to check his phone. I too easily told him Cinderella and Crystal were safe at home ... as if they belonged to me. He thanked me.

This Cinderella story touched something very deep within me.

• When has an experience grabbed my heart?
• How did I respond?
• How do I know when its a nudging from Spirit?
• When have I resisted?
• Whats it feel like to do something good with no expectation?

This Cinderella,
too, had been
left behind

by someone 
very much less
than Prince

and, instead
of magical
slippers, she
possessed a
magical child,

one in whose
eyes I saw that
of God and

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