Inspire byHearing: Three Rough Fingers

Bring me all of your dreams,

You dreamer,

Bring me all of your heart melodies

That I may wrap them

In a blue-cloud cloth

Away from the too-rough finger of the world.

-          Langston Hughes

You love all of them but you only dream that you can keep one, maybe two. Possibly three. I tell you this because most people assume that you’d want to adopt every child you meet in the group home. No. Not really. Well, at least that’s not the case for most of us. Our calling is to create a home in the least likely spaces and patch their little broken wings that they may fly away and see the world through hopeful eyes.

Now, there was this one woman, she did. She wanted to take every one of the children home with her to raise them as her very own. I’ll tell you about her big heart one day, it is legendary. Rare and legendary.

So, except for her, most of us only really ever develop the forever kind of kinship with one, two or three.  And the explanation for this is quite simple, it’s kind of like the penguins in Happy Feet. Heart songs are uniquely composed to draw only your truest love.

Before working in foster care, my entire perception of the industry was based on meticulous “research” about the infamous orphan Annie and her hard knock life. In other words, I knew nothing.

7 years later, I knew more than I wanted to know about abuse, abandonment and neglect. I understood more about these three rough fingers of the world than I had ever wished to understand, I learned of their causes and manifestations. Oh, the brutal manifestations…

I had seen thousands of children walk through the doors and I had loved them all. I loved them all, not because I knew each of them intimately but because it’s just what you do when you’re called to a profession of the heart, you love.

And despite all of the love I had, I only wanted to keep one. Two. Ok, three. There were three little heart songs that played my tune. I am compelled to write their names in this very moment, to say their names in text in hopes that the tenor of my alto voice would strum their heartstrings the way they strummed mine.

Alas, I cannot say their names aloud, so I will be satisfied as they echo in my heart. After nearly a decade I had fallen for these tiny humans that had experienced more hurt by the age of 5, than many of us will in a lifetime.

So, about my three musketeers.

The first time I fell was when I watched as he painstakingly assembled the 6 pieces of a freshly sliced red apple. Wispy untamed dirty blond hair, bewildered blue eyes and his tongue sticking out to the side, a sign of deep concentration. After restoring said apple to its original glory, he held is up proudly for all to see.

His father did little to acknowledge that he ever existed so we all cheered as if he were walking across the stage holding up his high school diploma.

The second time, I fell into the deep dark pools of tear-filled eyes as he was being redirected for vile behavior that he had performed without understanding. He had Puss in Boots eyes. Big dark saucers that were like staring into tomorrow’s tomorrow.

His abuse wasn’t his fault. He had seen the big boys do it, and it had been done to him. So, we made sure he knew he was loved, and tickled his little feet until laughter replaced the tears. Then we got him therapy.

The third time, he called me Ms. Onique (with a question mark). Misss Onique? Because despite constant reminders, he couldn’t seem to form his lips to pronounce two entire “M” sounds in one name. This little one was probably my favorite. He could have given thousands of hugs and high fives a day and I would have obliged.

We were fortunate that he was willing to free give such affection, especially since his father’s heavy hand was what had landed him in our care in the first place.

One does not enter the field of caring for others without the risk of losing yourself in the stories of their tragic pasts, bleak present states and uninspired futures.

The only thing you want to do is feverishly gather the broken pieces of their dreams and swaddle them tightly in government issued polyester blankets because blue-cloud cloth isn’t in the budget. And with the strength of a thousand youthfully resilient hearts you want to break the three-rough fingers of the world that have authored the tragic start of their young stories and re-write their stories with Happily Ever After.

Damn Abuse, Neglect and Abandonment. Rebuke, their causes and manifestations. Denounce, those three rough fingers of life, chaffing the fragile skin of God’s most beloved.

I would have done anything to ensure that my three little musketeers continued to dream big and in living color. I would have bandaged every wound. Applied balm to every abrasion. Patched up each of their little wings. But this would have only been  temporary fix to their gapping wounds.

I simply believe that the world’s hands would be more whole with 3 less fingers.

Dr. Monique Williams