By Judy Andreas
When I met her, she was living in a small, dark apartment with her two children. I came to her as a Caseworker but I left as her friend.
Marie's children had recently been returned to her after spending two years in Foster Care. The darkness of those days still hung over her head. There was never enough money, though she was a good worker. Denzil was a sickly child who needed constant medical attention. His father gracefully bowed out of the family portrait leaving Marie to make lengthy, expensive trips to a hospital in New York City with a screaming, frightened boy. Her boss, though stating he understood, assured her that he felt terrible about having to "let her go. "
Childhood ghosts conspired to turn Marie's frustration into anger. Denzil's little face resembled his abusive, cold-hearted father. Her anger found an outlet.
The charge was "neglect" ...the consequence was "removal." Social Services put the children in Foster Care while the mother endeavored to put her life together.
I did not know Marie then. I wish I had.
I met her shortly after her children were returned. Being reunited with her children was a joy that lit up her face.
She told me "See how fat I am getting. That's because I am so happy to have them back"
The children welcomed me into their home. My white skin was no obstacle for them. They had not as yet learned the consequences of color Sendy would sit on my lap and tell me how much she loved me. She didn't touch my heart.she exploded it.
As part of the Social Service intervention, Marie was in counseling and taking a class in parenting. Despite the poor public transportation, she always found ways to navigate the county maze. She loved the parent groups and, with their help, developed ways to cope with frustration.
It was almost Christmas and Marie was certain that this would be the best holiday ever. After the two year separation, she was back with her children and had found a job. The apartment was small and dark, but to Marie, it was paradise.
One evening, while Marie was bathing her 6 year old son, he began to share what had happened in Foster Care. He told his mother what the foster mother's son had done to himhow he had hurt him. Marie reached onto the sink to keep from fainting. The words were knives.slicing her flesh.
Denzil's wounds had now become his mother's; the pain that did not go away. Both Denzil and Sendy had been sexually abused over and over again, by a fourteen year old boy.
"Sendy was only two years old at the time," Marie cried to me. "Where was the foster mother? Why had Social Services snatched the children from my loving arms to put them in harms way?" Her head was reeling. There were no answers to the questions.
The Detective bought Marie a Christmas tree and I got her ornaments for it. A volunteer donated seven bags of food for her holiday dinner. Marie uttered words of thanks yet the words were empty. Her heart had been broken.
It's nearly 2005, and soon everyone will be yelling "Happy New Year." Streamers will be strewn over the streets. Staggering drunk party goers will crowd into Times Square with hats and horns of merry hysteria and days of Auld Lang Syne.
In a small dark apartment, a woman sits with her two small children. The circle of tears never leaves her eyes.
Tell Me There's A Heaven
By Chris Rea
The little girl she said to me
What are these things that I can see
Each night when I come home from school
And mama calls me in for tea
Oh every night a baby dies
And every night a mama cries
What makes those men do what they do
To make that person black and blue
Grandpa says they're happy now
They sit with God in paradise
With angels' wings and still somehow
It makes me feel like ice
Tell me there's a heaven
Tell me that it's true
Tell me there's a reason
Why I'm seeing what I do
Tell me there's a heaven
Where all those people go
Tell me they're all happy now
Papa tell me that it's so
So do I tell her that it's true
That there's a place for me and you
Where hungry children smile and say
We wouldn't have no other way
That every painful crack of bones
Is a step along the way
Every wrong done is a game plan
To that great and joyful day
And I'm looking at the father and the son
And I'm looking at the mother and the daughter
And I'm watching them in tears of pain
And I'm watching them suffer
Don't tell that little girl
Tell me.......................
Copyright 2004 Judy Andreas



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