E has become BFF with a little 10 year-old girl in our church. They are the same height and have similar interests and the 10 year-old is extremely innocent so they make a great pair. But I really feel for this girl because she has had a rough life and carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. For the purpose of this post, we'll call her A.
When she was 4 her dad had an affair with another member of our church. The woman was in an open marriage (even though he wasn't) so the affair became public knowledge and quite painful for A's mom. They tried to reconcile for a year but couldn't and divorced when A was 6. From then on, things went downhill. Her father went through some sort of mid-life crisis and stopped paying full child support. The couple had owned 2 houses together and the dad lived in one while the mom and her two daughters lived in the other. Each paid their own mortgage even though they were both signers on both houses. The father decided to stop paying his mortgage as well, sending the house into foreclosure and ruining the mom's credit rating.
Before the foreclosure, her mom went back to school and got an education degree but hasn't been able to find a job. She's been subbing at the local schools, but it is not enough to make ends meet. Things have been extremely tough. Hubby has been trying to slip some church money to the mom, but it is only enough to help a little. Things are tight all around and giving has been down. Now A's mom has put her house on the market in hopes of moving out and getting an apartment.
So here is this little girl who knows the score- she's losing her home, her mom can't afford to buy any extras, they eat Chef boyardee a lot and they NEVER go anywhere because the cost of gas is an impediment. A is stressed to say the least. A's mom did a lot of her Christmas shopping at the Dollar Store and 10 year-old A received Tinkerbell gloves. She needed gloves, but Tinkerbell for a 10 year-old is embarrassing. I saw her mom talking to her about them and A lifted up her chin and refused to complain because she knew it was the best her mom could do. It just made my heart hurt.
So today we took A with us on a road trip. We drove 2 hours to one of the local history sites. E had missed her school field trip to the site because we left early to go to Florida at Thanksgiving and we wanted to make it up. We don't go on road trips often, after all, we don't have a lot of money either. But when we go, we let E splurge. We get snacks when we get gas, she gets $10.00 for the gift shop and we eat one meal at a nice sit-down restaurant. So of course, we gave A the same treatment. A was shell-shocked! When we stopped the first time and got snacks, she was afraid to ask for anything. I told her that we had received a little extra Christmas bonus from the church that money was paying for this trip and she could get what she wanted. If I hadn't made that fib up, I am not sure she would have let us buy her things. But that was all it took. She got a bag of chips AND a drink. She felt so guilty, but I could tell just letting some of that stress go, if only for a moment, did her a world of good. For the rest of the day she laughed and smiled and just seemed to feel relieved.
It's hard to believe just two years ago Hubby and I couldn't afford to buy groceries and I actually had no snack send to school with E. That was the worst feeling in the world to me, but no matter how bad things got or get for us, we will always have a church-supplied house and church-paid for utilities. This little girl doesn't have that safety net and she's still holding her chin up high. And looking at her I realized just how much I take for granted.