Some of the Saddest Words Spoken
Wanting to enjoy the sunshine my wife chose to walk to the grocery store. It’s quite a distance. With groceries in hand, she was returning and walking through several neighborhoods to get home, enjoying the sound of birds celebrating summer and the sight of flourishing hostas and flowers. Then she heard the yelling of several older people and the sobbing of a young boy. Initially, it was the harsh volume that caught her attention. As she got closer it was the unrelenting venomous words being hurled at the boy that pierced her heart. She slowed her pace, not out of traffic accident curiosity but because she was concerned for the boy. The three were in their back yard; Les walked just past their residence and then stopped. She didn't know what to do but she knew the scene could get worse and she wasn't going to allow that to happen. A man and a woman in their 60’s were standing over the boy, teaming together in their tirade. Eventually, the adults backed off and went back inside their house, leaving the boy alone and crying.
My wife didn't want to agitate the adults further only for them to scapegoat the boy even more, but neither could she just walk away. She raised her voice loud enough for the boy to hear, hoping she was under the adults’ radar.
“Are you ok?”
“Do you want to talk?”
“Yes, I do.”
She introduced herself and asked him a question or two. He’s “Billy” and he’s 12. His mom has custody but she couldn't take care of him for a couple days so she persuaded her mother and stepfather to take him. He was missing mom and they wouldn't let him see her momentarily or even call her. Instead, they berated him and were intent on screaming and shaming compliance into him.
Les listened as “Billy” poured out his heart to a listening soul. As he told his story, collecting himself off and on in order to be understood, she cried with him.
She didn't want to get him in more trouble for talking long with her and she needed to get home, as well. She asked him if he felt safe; he assured her that there was no physical or sexual abuse taking place. It was time to say goodbye.
“Is it ok if I pray for you, Billy?”
“Do you pray?”
I used to; I don’t anymore.”
“I used to; I don’t anymore.” He’s 12 years old and already his faith has been decimated. The very people who are to care the most have crushed him the most. Only twelve and his spirit is already broken.
She walked home and he went back into the house of those who steal dreams and rob kids of hope.