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Topic: Blessed (11/29/04)
TITLE: A Good Place To Start
By Thomasina Laskar
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One lone figure of a nine-year-old child sat at her favorite window seat with her head fixed comfortably on her arms, wrapped loosely about a large green velvet pillow. Her mild brown eyes were set beyond the frosty panes, not on the snow-draped scenery, but on the memory of a face she had not seen for a year. She still resisted the idea that her mother abandoned her, though the hope for her return slowly waned.
“God, I miss my mother,” she quietly confessed. The glossy light brown shoulder-length hair did not conceal her tears.
Less than a year ago Randie was placed here at the Willowood Home for Girls after her foster parents moved away, and she still felt like the stranger she was then. A few of the girls there might be considered her friends, but she limited herself in that regard, for she never knew when either one might leave. There was no comfort to be found, and no understanding for the sorrow and heartache she felt at times; she went to counseling, but it was hard enough to express her feelings in words when she didn’t know to. She found the greatest comfort to be the window seat, where for a time she sat peace with her thoughts and her silent prayers to God.
Tonight was Christmas Eve, and the only sounds in the house were the ones that came from the kitchen. Most of the girls were home with their families for the holidays; only three, Randie counted among them, remained at the group home. She stayed behind while the other two went with their house parents to purchase last-minute gifts. She gazed at the nine-foot Christmas tree decorated with lively ornaments of nearly every color and nearly every kind. The expanse of it nearly touched the cathedral ceiling, with glimmering flashes of lights on every limb. A sparse number of wrapped presents nestled at the base of it.
“Miranda,” came the familiar voice of Frances, the daytime housekeeper who peered around the corner from the kitchen to recruit her help. “I’m about to mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookies—you wanna help?”
“Nah, Miss Frances,” Randie solemnly returned.
“Ah, Christmas Eve,” Frances muttered to herself. She was more than acquainted with the situations of each of the girls she worked with. The unspoken ache of loneliness and the torture of feeling forgotten were not uncommon this time of year. The least she could do was comfort them with her presence and her companionship, which included an invitation to the kitchen to bake cookies. “When you’re ready, come on in.”
Frances paused long enough to place her hand on Randie’s shoulder. The tenderness of that touch seeped to the deepest wounds of her heart. Her impish face finally raised to offer a small smile. At that Frances returned to the kitchen where she tended to the small feast she made every year.
Immediately Randie’s thoughts returned to her earlier musings. With a deep sigh she considered her loss. Then, she remembered how she lived with her mother: going from shelter to shelter, dirty, poor, and hungry. If there was money it was usually spent on drugs instead of food; Randie’s earliest memories were images of dark places filled with dank smells and weirded-out men that didn’t hesitate to lay a hand on her. The recollection of desperate hunger, the prayers for food to eat, and the chill of the bitter winter’s cold were the strongest. Today, on this Christmas Eve, though it didn’t seem she had much, she realized that she had more than she once had. The circumstances were not to her liking, but they were much better than times before.
Randie dried her eyes with her sleeves, lifted herself from the window seat to the beckoning smells of the kitchen. Before she settled in at the breakfast counter to help Frances she went to the woman’s side and pressed herself in for a hug. Caught with a bowl of batter in her hands, Frances set the dish down to return the gesture. She wasn’t Mom, but tonight she was all Randie had. It was a place to start, at least.