Thursday, January 30, 2014

Unanswerable Questions

I was sitting in a friend's kitchen on Easter Sunday. It was late spring and the kids were playing outside while we got lunch ready to eat on the front lawn. We had invited a family from church to join all of us because they were new to our congregation and she was a single mom with 2 kids and no family in town.

Her little girl, maybe 7, wandered into the kitchen and sat down at the table beside me. The mother looked at her daughter and said, "You and this lady have something in common." 

And I froze. 

Our commonality was we had both been abused. I knew this was what the mom was referencing. What I couldn't figure out was what she thought I was supposed to do with that opening. 

There is a space in time that freezes, or at least slows down significantly. I got caught in that time/space. Really it was only for a few seconds, but I clearly remember looking with desperation to the other women in that kitchen. Women who knew my story and were waiting for me to offer this little girl a gift of healing. 

I opened my mouth and said, "What's your favorite color?"

That was all I could process, except to know this was neither the time nor the place, nor was I the person to delve into this child's trauma.

She looked at me timidly and said, "Purple."

I smiled and said, "Me too!" And from there we went into a conversation on the benefits of different shades of purple and what other colors we liked using when we drew pictures.

Her mother wandered from the kitchen. I don't know what she had expected. I don't know what I could have done differently.

Their family didn't stay around at church long. I don't think I drove them away, but I'm not sure I offered them something they needed. So if that little girl is reading this now, or her mother is, this is what I want you to know. 

Purple is my favorite color. And I do love to draw and color pictures. I am infinitely sorry for the trauma you experienced, and I wish I had the wisdom to help you heal. But maybe I gave you something. I hope so. 


linking up with Writer's Workshop

1 comment:

  1. Oh ugh. I have a good friend/former student who was abused and I was present for a similar conversation--not with a child, but just one of those horrible "I'm going to barge into your personal life and divulge what isn't my right to own" moments. I wanted to grab him and run out of the room. Good save. That little girl didn't deserve that kind of forced bonding.


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