I woke up the other morning to pounding on my door. It was a friend. To be honest, she had told me she would bring them by, but I had forgotten, and we don't usually wake that early.
I know these kids of my friend's. We watch them every now and then. I don't know what is going on in my friend's life. I know that she and her husband are separated. Why, I don't know exactly. I've heard rumors. I've heard accusations hurled at her by the husband. I've even heard some of the official word that the church is putting out. But I haven't heard from her.
So I withhold judgment. I've seen what rumors are like. I've experienced what accusations can be hurled. I've even known how a church can evaluate a situation.
So I wait. I grabbed her one day last spring when our life was still too involved in recovering from trauma to be able to be there for her, but I grabbed her, looked in her eyes, and said, "Hey, I want you to know that I have heard things going around, but I am not going to believe anything about you until I hear it from you."
She looked up quickly then, her eyes filling with tears, and whispered a quick "thank-you'. My goal is to be there for her. She doesn't yet share, but she knows I am there for her, ready to listen if she wants, but not demanding it.
That morning's knock brought three little kids to my door. I let them in and settled them down with blankets in front of a video. It was a special day at school that day, so I wanted to get up in about an hour so I had time to do my daughter's hair. I wanted to do it up in a pile of curls on the top of her head. She would look gorgeous.
An hour later, I stood at a table with seven heads bent over their breakfasts and mentally evaluated what my daughter's hair would require. My gaze scanned the other heads and paused.
Two other little girls sat at my table, their beautiful hair in rat's nests. I, like others, have grown used to them like this. Unkempt, uncared for. The mother too run down herself to put effort into beauty for the girls. The father unable and unseeing of the damage he does. The grandmother's eyes fill quickly with tears as she sees her grandchildren.
I sighed. I guess I could settle for a nicely brushed out hair and a little bow for my daughter. So I called the girls up.
Their eyes danced with the thought of being beautiful for the special day. Their grandparents would be coming, and they could look beautiful. It took about half an hour of combing and detangling, but we got the hair glistening. I asked each one if thy wanted braids, pony tails, or curls. Their eyes lit up and they whispered "Can I have curls?" So I put half their hair on the top of their head, curled that portion into ringlets that cascaded down over their smoothly brushed hair, and put a bow on each.
Then I quickly pulled my daughter's hair to the side and put a bow in it, too.
We were a little late to school, but they looked lovely.
That afternoon at the program, I was rewarded with happy tears in their grandma's eyes when she saw them. They no longer looked like the unkempt kids in the middle of a divorce, but like loved and cherished girls made beautiful for this day. They looked up and smiled, knowing they were done up like princesses.
It was worth it. My daughter did not look as drop dead gorgeous like she could have if I spent half an hour on her hair, but she looked fine. True beauty comes from the joy you give others, not shining above those around you.
It was worth it, even when after the program, I stopped in the class that was filled with grandparents, aunts, and uncles oohing and aahing over student's work, and my son was sitting bent over his desk with hot tears running down his face. "How come I never have grandparents here on this day? I don't have any family that ever comes!" There was nothing to say. My daughter had made a special card for the substitute family that had come to her performance, but they had left early and had not stayed to go into her class, so she sat there with her special thank-you card and no one to give it to. Tears poured down her face, too.
We packed up early and headed home. It was a good night for popcorn, a movie, and doing nothing as a family together.
Little curls, little tears, little hearts that suffer for adult's decisions, and little minds that try to wrap around big questions.