Letters to the Editor

Long Journey Home: A Poem

Bright and loving

Through childhood years

Her life seemed normal

though future was feared.

Then no longer willing

to be a child,

our family in siege

a teen going wild.

Who was this stranger

Glaring at me?

Rock dress and music,

demands to be free.

Hated the old,

wanted all new.

We couldn’t agree

a battle insued.

‘There’ll be no tomorrow,

so live for today!’

She screamed her defiance,

then ran away.

Small towns confining

giving no clues,

Teens get bored and

the world they pursue.

Off to their dreams,

the young do cry,

“We “hate where we’ve

been, it’s our turn to try!”

Nothing to stop her,

The laws had deemed,

a new “Young Adult”

three days eighteen.

Gone twenty-four hours,

The rules had said

Then look for lost child,

that could be dead.

Their rule to wait

took too much time,

All clues erased,

no path to find.

Each day a stuggle

to maintain normalcy.

Driving down streets,

and hoped there she’d be.

Then silence was broken,

a call on the phone.

“Is life worth living,

do I still have a home?”

Just stopped by the roadside

to use the pay phone.

Fast traveling to nowhere,

Destination unknown.

“I love you my child,

not like what you do.

You can’t run from ‘ self’,

Please think this thing through.”

“Good-byes” then echoed,

an empty dial tone.

A void in our family,

I longed for her home.

She slept in cars,

Braced near their door,

Hearing her hunger,

above the winds roar.

Thoughts of warm blankets,

a good night kiss,

No longer a child.

“Freedom” is this?

Adventure was sought,

For glory or fame,

Bodies were bought,

shelter to gain.

The price for protection,

degraded and shamed.

She dared ask no questions,

the “streets” ruled that game.

She always kept moving,

let no one get near,

her dreams were now nightmares.

She knew only fear.

Some youth’s unlucky,

their answers come late,

their now serving time,

behind Hell’s gates.

Changing their names,

can’t tell they belong,

only a toe-tag,

“Doe Jane or John”.

Strangers arrived,

and knocked at our door,

What could they tell me,

I’d not heard before?

We felt it our duty,

to tell the results.

concerning your child,

just turned “adult”

Discouraged and beaten,

she gave up hope,

overdosed on drugs,

her death may result.

Just wanted out,

her choice to be free,

“your child is dying,

hurry, come see”.

The trip not remembered,

just shown to her room

all eyes were averted,

sensing some doom.

She lay there unconscious,

I crumpled inside,

praying for strength,

I quietly cried.

Being so near,

yet so far away,

this price for her “freedom”

was too much too pay!

Her father at work,

sixty miles away,

unable to reach him

till the end of day.

Alone in the crowd,

on God I relied,

given strength to go on,

and her death to defy.

I walked her three hours,

This battle I’d win!

Arriving from work,

her dad pitched in.

Using love’s power,

we offered a prayer

“Intercede, Dear Lord,

tell her we care!”

She opened her eyes,

sat up in her bed,

feeling her failure,

she wasn’t dead.

She looked at us coldly,

“Get out!” she cried,

“I don’t want you to see me,

I failed to die!”

Reluctantly leaving,

no talk as we rode,

our hopes were crushed,

under the load.

She fled after dark,

to unknown towns,

needed a new start,

none here were found.

The years were not counted,

a calm was achieved,

then the silence was broken,

a short lived reprieve.

“Mom, I’m pregnant,”

her shy voice on the phone,

seeking compassion,

“May I come home?”

The father uncaring,

on drugs and fast life,

too busy with “self’

for baby or wife.

Told to abort child,

this she couldn’t do,

“There’s no place for us,

can I come to you?”

With no hesitation,

my answer was “Yes”!

In fairness to family,

I must ask the rest.

Talking for hours,

expressing all views,

tell her she’s welcome,

we’ll see this through.

Tickets and money,

were graciously paid,

no expression of”Thanks”

could ever be made.

Three days past New Year’s

we all set out,

no attitudes pious,

or judgments to toute.

A scared young woman,

arriving by bus.

Healing our family,

depended on us.

Her father was quiet,

like a “calm before storm”.

Each emotion controlled,

all were forewarned.

Part way to the station

he stopped at a store.

A little brown bag,

he bought nothing more.

Tossed on the seat,

and crimped at the top.

I asked “Is it gum?”

He said it was not.

All rode in silence,

what would we say?

“It’s nice to see you,

how long will you stay?’

So much effort,

healing these pains.

Two years of damage,

could peace by maintained?

Arriving at station.

each taking their place.

we tried to remember

the stray child’s face.

Father by main door,

arms folded on chest.

A “quiet thunder”

surveying the rest.

I sat in the middle,

my nerves to compose,

and hoped for thorns gone,

from our “rambling rose”

Her sisters were racing,

they felt she was near,

like “static energy”

they moved as a pair.

A shriek of glee!

she walked through the door.

Hopes were raging,

adrenaline soared.

Seeing her sisters,

their childhood at rest,

she missed their growing,

now felt the regrets.

Our souls joined in a glance,

she ran to my side,

I held a young woman, as child.

We stood there and cried.

Time moved in still frames,

almost absurd, ‘

it seemed an eon,

since small, angry words.

One box of possessions.

Hair washed in bus sink,

jeans, sweater and sneakers,

too tired to think.

So many hurdles,

just one thing more,

you have to make peace, dear,

Dad’s by the main door.

She walked to meet him,

his eyes only moved,

no way to tell,

could she win or lose?

Slowly he straightened,

broad shoulders braced,

a six foot giant,

with a steeled face.

Two halves of this story,

stood eye to eye.

Silently asking,

could anger subside?

His arm and fist shot at her,

a rattle snake strike,

I prayed for peace,

but braced for a fight.

Time seemed frozen,

soft cheers from above.

One act of forgiveness,

understanding and love.

She flew to his arms,

what he bought now known,

in his fist a pink flower,

to welcome her home.

In spring grew our daughter,

in summer our grandson,

with loves healing power,

no winter’s too strong.

Only the beginning--------

First published in 1985. This story is not unusual. If you are out on the streets, no where to go, afraid to go home, there is help for you. Real Help, you don’t even need a quarter.

Call 1-800-999-9999, the Runaway Hotline. They will help you with any problem - to get you off drugs or home if you wish. There is still love in the world. Love a great-grandma. Barb Lister, Oak Harbor.

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