Editor’s Note: I work as the PR and Marketing Manager at Serenity’s Steps and That Grace Restored. One of my favorite things is writing this blog, and today I get to share a story with you about one of our women with whom I have had the privilege of developing a close friendship.
I pull up to the Travelodge on Old National Highway, my windows rolled down. It’s a welcome break in the weather, sun beating down, warming the earth after an unusually cold winter in Atlanta.
I call Her. She answers.
“Come around to the back,” She says. I pull my car in next to the beat up Cadillac. She runs down the stairs and we push Her extra clothes into the trunk to make room for the space heaters I’ve brought to warm up Her new house. The heat has yet to be turned on.
I haven’t seen the house yet. She and Her young family are moving to a three-bedroom house today, rented to Her at a good price by one of our board members. It means the world to have space in a quiet neighborhood after sticking it out for the last 8 months in a one-bedroom apartment with no furniture and an unpredictable pregnant cousin on Old National.
She gets in the car and slams the door. Today is a day of frustration. She vents to me about her boyfriend not wanting to leave his friends and her 5-year-old daughter complaining about changing schools as we pull onto the interstate. She’s just trying to make a better life for them by moving.
We’re met in the school office by a no-nonsense administrative assistant who informs us that we will have to drive all the way back tomorrow to pick up withdrawal paperwork for her daughter. Just another hitch in Her plans but we roll our eyes and laugh it off as we walk back to the car. By now, She’s used to complications.
She texts me when I get home. “The water won’t work and I think the stove’s broken. I hate this house.”
I know she’s reacting to how overwhelming the situation seems, but why wouldn’t she? She’s worked so hard to provide, only to be met with constant struggle.
The next afternoon I arrive at the new house. It’s brick faced and on a quiet street. There’s a fenced-in yard for the kids to play. She gets in the car with me, this time with daughter in tow to head back to the school.
We get there early so we go for ice cream. She holds her daughter on her lap and wipes the vanilla off of her face. The love between them is evident. As I watch them I hope one day I have a daughter that I’m bonded to like that.
We pick our way through screaming children waiting for their buses to the office, collect the papers, and take Her daughter to say goodbye to her teacher.
When we get back She gives me a tour of the house. Still no furniture, She’s waiting on her long overdue tax return for that. Her boyfriend and his friend sit in the living room watching TV. Her sons rest and watch cartoons in the bedroom.
She picks up some sidewalk chalk and brings it to the driveway to draw with Her daughter. I have to go so I tell Her I’ll talk to Her soon and ask Her to tell me if She needs anything else.
As I turn to leave She runs after me, “Ummm, you’re leaving without a hug?” She pretends to glare at me and I laugh and hug her back.
As I pull away from the curb, I watch Her, smiling with Her family, constantly looking out for their well-being even when it means putting Herself second almost every time. Here She is, standing in front of Her new house, away from Old National, about to start a new job. It may not be perfect but She has persevered and made it here against all odds.
She is brave. She is beautiful. She is my inspiration.