It’s been hanging on at the end of nearly all my thoughts lately. How can our hope reach this broken, hurting world? How can we reach out to listen, to heal, to bind up wounds?
She slept in my room on a cot last night. A fifteen year old girl named Anna on the brink of welcoming her first child into the world.
She is scared and alone and keeps telling me she didn’t know she was going to end up here. By that, I think she means alone, nearing labor and being cared for by an American stranger. But the tremble in her voice and the way she averts her eyes and answers in barely a whisper when the midwife visits makes me wonder if “here” means so much more.
After the midwife’s visit, she is trembling and sweating and clearly needs to decompress. We stand in the window and look at the hundreds of birds flying through the yard on their afternoon migration. We talk about her village and her family.
She rattles quickly, half in Spanish, half in her native dialect. I just stand and let it all spill out. The nerves. The fear. The uncertainty.
She wonders if anyone will come looking for her.
Her boyfriend, who dropped her off in the city and left. Her father. Her aunts.
She knows her mother will not come. Her mother has lived in the hospital these last eight months with her baby sister who is oxygen dependent and swings her head towards death’s doors more often than not.
I count the months she has been without her mom and the months she has been pregnant and try to wrap my head around the look on her face when the midwife and I tried to explain the process of labor and what doctors have to do. I wish I could reach in and grab hold of her story and give her the courage to tell it.
I reach out twirl her pony tail around my fingers. Swipe the stray hairs from her temples.
I touch her.
I want her to know gentleness. Care. Hope.
I speak soft words about what it is like to hold a new baby in your arms and fall in love. I tell her what they smell like and how they curl into you and turn their heads to root for you and how your body responds without you even having to think.
I tell her I will not leave her alone for even one second if she wants.
She shrugs her shoulders and stares out of the window.
I wonder how far her thoughts travel and what her gaze reaches for.
I think I have failed her. Have not given her the confidence she so desperately needs. That my hope has not reached for enough today. But she follows me down the stairs and asks where she will sleep tonight. Clearly indicating she does not want to sleep upstairs alone.
I tell her she can sleep in my room with me. I make her bed on a cot by my side.
She snuggles in under the covers and smiles when I slide into the bed next to her.
And I know that today, I have reached far enough.