My name is Jamie Holiday Sutton--Jamie after my mother and Holiday after Billie Holiday, a jazz artist my mother loved. I go by Holiday.
I was born on July 4th, 1998, a month early, but healthy.
You would think the fact that I’m named Holiday, born on a national holiday, would mean something. Like an omen that my life would be happy, full of family, friends, and fireworks in the sky.
I have an early memory of lying on the bed with my mom laughing. I don’t remember why we were laughing. Maybe she was tickling me, or had told me a funny story. I just remember lying beside her, the sound of her laugh blending with mine. I remember feeling happy.
This is the memory I hold onto when I wonder if my mom ever loved me. When I lie awake at night, haunted by all the other memories I have. I think she did love me once, before she didn’t love anything but her pills and alcohol.
It’s nice here where I am now, the girls home. The people are kind. I especially like Ms. Meredith. She wears this perfume that smells like a whole garden of honeysuckle.
Ms. Meredith talks a lot about God. My mom didn’t believe in God.
I remember one particular afternoon, a man knocked on our door saying he was the pastor of the church down the street. He asked if he could come in and tell us about the love of Jesus. He had a big black Bible under his arm. My mother was drunk. She told him there was no God and no love of Jesus. She waved her arm through the air and said, “See this? This is hell. My life is hell. Don’t talk about some almighty God who loves me.” She slammed the door. When she whirled around and saw me behind her she slapped me hard across the face. “If God loved you Holiday, he would’ve stopped me from hitting you. You remember that! There is no God.”
I didn’t tell Ms. Meredith that part of the story, but I did tell her about my mom saying there was no God and no love of Jesus. She just smiled.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked.
“I sure do!”
“How do you know?”
“Because He lives in my heart.”
I thought it was strange, the idea of God living in somebody’s heart.
Ms. Meredith told me something else about God, something that has had me thinking. She said that God wants to adopt me into His family. That really caught my attention because that’s what we are all waiting for here at the girl’s home…to be adopted.
“How does God mean to adopt me into his family?” Ms. Meredith was pouring a cup of coffee when I walked into the kitchen and belted out my question.
“Through His Son, Jesus Christ.” She replied. She must have been able to tell by the look on my face I was confused.
“Holiday, the Bible says we are all sinners.”
I had experienced enough of life to have no argument there.
“Our sin makes us enemies of God deserving His punishment and there is nothing we can do to fix it. Even our goodness can’t reach God’s holiness.” Ms. Meredith paused to make sure I was following her. I nodded that I was.
“So, God came to us as a tiny baby in a manger. The birth of this baby, Jesus, is what we celebrate at Christmas.”
“Oh,” I replied. I didn’t tell her my mom and I never celebrated Christmas, religiously or materially.
“Jesus lived a sinless life and did many miracles to show everyone that He was the Son of God, but the people killed Him on a cross anyway. When He died on that cross He paid for all my sin, and yours, and anyone’s who will come to Him. Then, on the third day He rose from the grave. This is what we celebrate at Easter.” Ms. Meredith smiled.
I simply nodded.
“The Bible says when we accept Jesus as our Savior all our sins are wiped away and God adopts us into his family.”
I thought about this for a moment. I needed a family and I figured God’s family was by far the best one to be adopted into, but I had one more question.
“Why would God do this?”
Her answer was simple, but everything I needed to hear.