Large snowflakes began falling from the sky. The kind of peaceful snowflakes that melt instantly upon touching the ground. These snowflakes posed no real threat for accumulation and were more beautiful than functional. The air was cold, but still. The lack of Cheyenne wind made this December evening tolerable and almost delightful to be outside.
For a few moments she was caught up watching the snowflakes fall slowly from the sky, just taking in their beauty and being grateful for the forgiveness in the weather this particular evening. After watching one abnormally large snowflake touch down and disappear on the street car parked on the curb not too far in front of her, she turned her attention to the bundle in her arms. Lifting back her wool shawl exposing just enough of the sweet face swaddled in her arms she focused in on every detail of this baby boy. Gently touching his cheeks with the back of her fingers she could feel his warmth and knew he was comfortable.
Sleep came so peacefully to this little being as his lips curled in a small O shape as he dreamed of baby things without a care in the world. For a moment that familiar feeling of taking him back to the house she was boarding in and raising him herself came over her. She knew she possessed enough love to see him to adulthood and beyond. But reality knew that she had struggled to keep herself fed properly over the last year, let alone another human being. She closed her eyes tight and tried to shake that fairy tale from her mind. She was doing this BECAUSE she loved him she reminded herself. If there was help to be found she didn’t know of it, and this seemed like the most logical solution to her circumstance.
Opening her eyes again she began drinking in this little person, trying to remember every detail of his face and breathing in his scent hoping it could somehow, someway last her a lifetime. He had black hair like hers, for which she was thankful that it was not the coppery red of his fathers. No, she wasn’t going to think about him either, he wasn’t here nor would he ever be so she might as well put that thought furthest from her mind. The baby’s cheeks were full and rosy and she hoped that wasn’t from him being too warm, or having a fever or any other number of problems new babies might encounter.
How she wished she could ask her mother. Her mother was as close to a saint as she had ever known. Having given birth to six babies herself and raised them up to be plump and happy all while growing accustomed to her new surroundings in America, there weren’t many problems her mother couldn’t solve. The young girl never could remember a time when her mother wasn’t working herself to the bone, all while smiling and teaching her children along the way. But what had started as a small cough had taken this feisty, brave European woman to an early grave in a matter of months leaving behind all six children and a husband with no reason to go on, and no food in the cupboards.
Now this new mother, holding this small beautiful baby that she could never take care of was angry, and if the truth was known she had been angry for a long time. Anger had first presented upon her mother’s death, and continued into her father’s drunkenness. The anger did not leave when she had to leave the only home she had ever known to find work in Cheyenne to support her family back home. In Cheyenne she had found work, but the anger hadn’t left. In fact the anger intensified when she realized that she was expecting. A truly devastating blow to an already dire situation.
Covering the sleeping baby with her shawl again she looked towards the sky. She wasn’t really sure who she was looking for but she knew she needed answers. Maybe she was looking for an angelic figure of her mother, or of the God her mother had spent countless hours reading to her children about and praying to in her thick foreign accent. Yes it was Him she was mad at.
“Why have you let all this happen?” she thought “What plan do you have for all of this heartache?”
Lowering her head she began rocking back and fourth to sooth the already sleeping baby. She may have been angry with God for a long time, but she knew this anger, really hadn’t gotten her anywhere. Now she needed help. More than she had ever needed it in her life. She needed someone else to raise this baby. She looked towards what she assumed were the heavens again and simply said “Please” in a whisper, not even sure if He could hear whispers or what exactly she was asking for. Unable to finish her attempt at prayer she was interrupted by the sound of doors opening.
Snapping back into reality she knew she must act quickly if she was going to carry out this plan. Panic overtook her and she began walking towards the line of parked cars and at random, picked one that was very nice looking on the outside. This must belong to a nice family that will surely take this baby and raise him the way he deserves to be raised. Hurriedly she opened the front driver’s side door with a free hand, taking a moment to glance around making sure she wasn’t seen. She took the baby out from under her shawl and placed him gently on the front seat of the car as to not disturb his sleep. Tucking the blanket around him again to maintain his warmth she paused only for a moment to gaze at his face one last time before standing up and gently closing the car door with him on the inside.
She could hear the sound of people coming down the stone steps out of the church as she made her way quickly back to the hedge she had been standing behind just a few moments earlier. She knelt down and tried to slow her breathing as she could hear chatting and laughter of people approaching. Peering from behind the thin leafless bush she fixed her eyes on the car that contained her son. Soon a family with warm coats and good shoes would come to the car, discover the baby and swoon over him taking him in as one of their own living happily ever after-at least that’s how she had played out the scenario in her head all day.
But a family didn’t approach. Instead much to her disbelief a single man came to that particular car. He was a very tall, handsome black man, and he was alone. No woman with him, no mother figure to cradle him in her arms and reassure him that everything was going to be fine!! What had she done!! Before she could react the man peered in the window of his vehicle and immediately registered the fact that there was a baby in there. He ripped the car door open and swooped up the little baby who all but disappeared in his giant arms. Hesitating a moment the man began checking the baby’s face and began talking to him, something like ‘there, there little fella’.
Quickly he turned toward some other people down the street and began hollering at them for help. A family rushed over and looked at the baby assessing the situation with great concern. The next few minutes seemed to slow down in her mind. Her cheeks became hot, her breathing labored and there was a ringing in her ears. The moments events were simply too overwhelming. In an instant another man jumped in the driver’s side of the car and the tall man still holding her baby made his way to the passenger side. The engine of the car roared and tires spun as the men pulled out in the street heading the opposite way from which it was parked and drove off in the direction of the hospital.
She lay there breathless and motionless until the commotion on the street had cleared and all the bystanders had returned to their cars and driven away. It took several minutes for her body to start working again, but she was eventually able to stand and make her way to the middle of the street, staring in the direction they had taken the baby. That was it. Motherhood was over for her she thought to herself.
She had told no one about her pregnancy-she couldn’t. For nine long months she had not let herself fall in love with the baby growing inside her, not relished in his kicking or dreaming of what he would look like. She had been too busy simply trying to live, to get by. But upon his rather fast and furious arrival she couldn’t help herself. The minute the small baby was placed in her arms she knew she loved him, and always would. In another lifetime she could see herself being the mother he deserved. She could picture the dinners she would feed him and the clothes she would dress him in. He would have new shoes every year and train sets and blocks to play with. She could picture him running to the door shouting “daddy, daddy!” at five thirty every evening when her devoted husband came home to them. All of these things she wanted so badly for him, but knew that in this lifetime, it just wasn’t possible.
What she could give him in addition to life, was a chance. A chance that somewhere, some young couple could provide all the comforts he deserved and more. For the first time in a long time she felt the urge to pray. Not a prayer for herself, not a prayer that the sweet baby boy would remember her, but only that he would know that she loved him. ‘Please God let him know I have done all I can for him, I know the rest is up to you’.
The next thing she feared would happen finally did. Tears. They began streaming down her face and she knew there would be no stopping them. She had no more strength to hold them in. The tears continued filling her eyes and warming her face as she turned from the middle of the street and began walking home. Deep in her heart she realized motherhood though it may have been fleating and silent, would in fact never be over for her.