Tuesday, September 18, 2012

snippet (3)

turned all inward on the edge of his bed,
chin to his chest,
he talked softly.
i whispered back.

i've known him for years now.
know part of his history.
know his parents put him in an orphanage.
know his parents were rough...abusive.
know he never felt loved in his family.

i knew all that.
and yet still, 
i wasn't prepared for the man in his eighties to say to me
in that little boy voice -
out of the blue -
without any prior conversation leading up to it -

'they never told me why they left me there.'

how can i hear a little boy in that old, weary, gravely voice?

i was startled.

it wasn't like he was delirious. or one of those old people so far gone
that they're just living in their childhood and all their comments come out
from living in another place in their minds.

i've heard that stuff. heard those comments.
understand them.

this was different.
just remembering while he was sitting there.

'they never told me why they left me there.'

and i understood exactly what he meant.

'did you think it was 'cause you were bad?' i asked softly. gently.

head down, he nodded.

i shook my head in disbelief.
he couldn't see it.
just a slight shake of the head. 
a quick closing of the eyes.
a deep breath.

how can this be? i wondered.
how can we get past 80 and still think we weren't good enough to be loved?

and so we talked.
quietly we talked.
he still wasn't sure.
he figured he was just a bad kid.

i leaned in close and disagreed with him.

what about now? i asked him.
do you know now?
do you know you have value now?

he claimed to believe it because of me.
sweet words, but i know better.
you don't believe it because someone tells you.
i know that.
i've lived that.

you believe it cause you start to see it.
maybe i helped him start to see it.
but i don't really think he does.
so i don't really think so.

but he was trying to tell me my caring mattered to him.
and i got that.
and i believe that. and i hold that.
and while i appreciated it, it broke my heart at the same time.

our contact is so minimal. 
and i didn't even know him til he was old.
can it really be that this person had lived so unloved for so long?

can it really be that such small acts of love can make such a difference?

my head spins with that thought.

because i've done some pretty large acts of love and seen them flop.
seen them backfire, seen them fizzle and die.

big things......things i tried hard at. things i gave my all to.
just not seeming to matter.

and yet......here's the small things mattering so much.

you just cannot tell, can you?

you can't figure out which things are gonna help heal, and which things
are gonna get kicked aside.

you can't tell.
and gosh, isn't that part of the mystery and the faith?
you gotta just keep trying.
cause you can't tell.

what a lesson i got sitting there on the edge of that bed.
you can't quit believing in love, ter.
you gotta give it freely and let it go.

maybe it doesn't always seem to matter on the outside.
but on my inside.......i guess it always matters.


Dan McGaffin said...

You know Terri, the idea of not giving up keeps popping up when I'm looking at stuff. You're right. You can't give up because you never know what will have an impact on someone's day or life. I can still remember writing one line and sharing it on the forum and you getting something out of it and kind of nudging you into action. One line. This man is lucky to have you in his life because of your loving heart. And even a little love can help someone through their day.

Joan Bitzer said...

Thank you Terri....you remind us all of how important it is to keep giving love no matter what. I am so very thankful for your voice in our world! Please keep speaking these words we need to hear!

Susie Keeth said...

It always, always matters on the inside Ter. These words matter tremendously....they always do.