Lance stepped out of his Mercedes Benz and onto the lush green turf. He looked around the park. Off in the distance was a large wooden pavilion that housed a half dozen picnic tables. He adjusted the cufflinks on his shirt and took special care not to place his brown loafers into any stray mud puddles left over from yesterday’s rain.
As he neared the pavilion, he was almost tackled by a tall African American man who was also clad in dress shirt and tie.
“Lance my brother!” the man exclaimed as he wrapped his large arms around Lance’s neck.
“Darrin! My man!” Lance said as he wormed his way out of the chokehold and turned around to face Darrin. Lance checked his clothing for any dirt or stray blades of grass.
“My apologies, Brother. I forgot that you’re Mr. Uptown now with that fancy Benz and your designer clothes.”
“It looks like you are doing quite well yourself, D. Look at your clothes. And I’m guessing that the Hummer sitting over there is yours.”
“Ha. You guessed right. Hey, come on over here. I want you to meet my wife.”
Lance followed Darrin underneath the pavilion roof. A slim woman with milk chocolate skin in a peach sundress stood laying a tablecloth over one of the tables.
“Latisha, this is my boy Lance. We grew up together at St. Anthony’s.”
Latisha stretched out her small hand towards Lance.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Lance. Darrin has said many good things about you. He has been looking forward to this reunion for a long time.”
“It’s great being here. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to take the time off and fly in, but I’m glad that I made it.”
“Feel free to grab something to drink and have a seat. More should be arriving shortly.”
Other familiar faces from Lance’s childhood soon arrived at the park. Some faces looked the same, and others had changed drastically. Many had families of their own, while others remained single. All shared a common bond – they were orphans who lived together at St. Anthony’s orphanage in New York. The orphanage was home to a diverse group of children. All colors were represented there, and this reunion displayed those colors proudly.
There was Li, a Chinese girl whose parents were robbed and gunned down in an alleyway. Then there was Ahmed, an Arabic boy whose parents gave him up to the state right after birth.
Darrin was taken away by Social Services after his mom got busted for dealing Crystal Meth. Lance escaped the abuse of alcoholic parents and found refuge at St. Anthony’s.
Then there was Anya, Malik, Yoshi, and Lisa. Together, all of these abandoned kids now sat as grown adults, each with unique stories to tell.
“I am majoring in Music at Julliard,” Li told Anya as they sat sipping on fruit punch and nibbling cookies.
“I am an investment banker still living in New York.” Lance told Darrin. “Every now and then I’ll drive upstate to St. Anthony’s. It really brings back a lot of memories, both happy and sad.”
“I heard that the place closed down a couple years ago.” Ahmed interjected.
“It did, Ahmed. You can’t go inside, so I just sit on the steps and pretend that I’m beating you all at checkers.” Lance laughed.
“Funny. You were never able to beat me.” Yoshi said proudly.
The group continued to banter back and forth until Lisa stood up to make an announcement.
“I don’t want to spoil this wonderful reunion, but I would like to stop for a moment and take notice of something. We are all blessed to have been adopted and to have made something of our lives, but there are many that are not here with us today. People like Rob, who died of a drug overdose early last year, and Tamara, who ended up dead while soliciting her body. Let us thank God for helping us take steps in the right direction, and let us pray for our fellow brothers and sisters who are still out there struggling with feelings of abandonment and worthlessness. Let’s pray for those who never found a home…”
Everyone gathered in a circle, each praying in his or her own way. At that moment, Lance realized that he had never really been abandoned while at St. Anthony’s. He had been with family the entire time.
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