On a Harrowing Sunday Night

On a Harrowing Sunday Night January 31, 2023

electric lights in the dark
image via Pixabay

On Sunday night, the Lost Girl went to the emergency room.

It turned out there was nothing wrong, but she’s diabetic and more than eight months pregnant, so when her hand went numb she went to get monitored just in case. The baby is still in there, kicking away.

When she was almost time to be released, she texted her parents. Her parents had been on the Doctor Jeckyll side of their split personality, lately, so when they asked the two older boys to come to their apartment for the weekend, the Lost Girl said yes. But now it was Sunday night, and time to pick them up.

The grandmother texted back that the boys were already asleep; she should let them sleep, and come get them the next day.

“No,” said the Lost Girl, who is the only grownup in her family. There was school tomorrow. She didn’t want the boys to be truant. They needed to go home and sleep in their own beds so they wouldn’t be late for the bus.

Her father then called her, but she didn’t pick up.

The voicemail triggered a panic attack.

She texted that voicemail to me, and I also felt inclined to have a panic attack. Her father who had seemed so mild-mannered when I met him was out of his mind with anger, calling her a string of four-letter words. He informed her that he wouldn’t give her children back, that they’d stay right where they were, that he was going to call social services to get custody. Why social services would listen to a convicted domestic abuser who sounded like that is another matter, but she was terrified.

The Lost Girl called the police from the hospital parking lot,  but they didn’t go and rescue the children.

They just said she needed to get a restraining order against her parents.

Obviously, this wasn’t something she could do after dark on a Sunday night. And then she realized she was running out of gas, so she started texting friends for help including me.

I flashed back to the time the police wouldn’t help us with the menacing neighbor until we got a restraining order, and then yelled at me for expecting help after we did.

I had nearly a full tank of gas, but Serendipity is still on the fritz. I don’t dare drive her more then a mile. I couldn’t even reliably make it to the hospital to pick her up from the parking lot. And I didn’t have any money either. This is January. Nobody who lives on tips has any money. Everybody is waiting for their tax rebate, and at this rate we won’t get one of those either. There is no end in sight.  I’ve had to put off the autoship of new guinea pig litter three times.  I had nothing to offer but moral support, which I tried to offer. I am not very good at that. I make my whole living writing words, but when it comes time to say a few simple encouraging notes I always get tongue tied. I don’t know what to say.

I didn’t know what to do except to ask around on social media again. Social media is just about the only asset I have. While I was asking, Michael checked the bank account and found that the landlord had not yet cashed rent, so we sent her a few dollars hoping to make it up the next day. So did a few other people. Between all of us we got her enough for gas that evening and gas the next morning to go to her obstetrician appointment.

She was able to pick up a friend to stand there and look intimidating while she sat in the parking lot of her parents’ apartment complex and waited for her children to be returned to her.

In this case, looking scary was all it took.

The boys had slept right through their slow-motion attempted kidnapping. They got into their mother’s car and went home.

Her parents are now texting her angry threats to call Social Services because she talked about what happened Sunday evening. Again, I don’t know why they think that will work. But that doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying.

The children are back in school now. The Lost Girl is going to go and get that restraining order, if she ever has a business day without work and without doctors’ appointments so she can drive down to the courthouse.

If you want to understand how everything is harder when you’re poor and come from generational poverty– well, here’s one way.

I just hope things get better.

I think they can.

 

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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