she was too old for her skin, all 13 years, and she stopped me in the hall and asked if we could talk.

i was the nervous one, the young life volunteer, fresh-faced from college and

it was chemistry, us going for coffee and jessica knew no love for an alcoholic mother and a father who’d died and for the next seven years i would be her biggest advocate.

i would pick her up from the police station at three in the morning and let her raid my fridge when she was high on ecstasy and take her blankets and food when she lived on the streets with her boyfriend.

and then she started doing crystal meth and i thought i’d lost her, until she found a little boy inside her, and he saved her.


and she cleaned up for him, and she sobered up, and she refused to give up when her boyfriend and her mother threatened to disown, to evict, to dump her if she didn’t abort her child.

and she kept him. my god-son.

and he has a brother, now, from the same father and jessica is the best mother i know. all 21 years of her, and the boys’ father beat her this summer.

and she called a u-haul, the next day, rented herself and the kids an apartment and they’re safe now.

but the dad never calls, never comes around, and the one time he did little joey wouldn’t let him go

and at four in the morning, he runs into jessica’s room crying “Daddy!”, and he’s four years old and having night terrors.

and i cannot sleep for hearing him cry, two hundred miles away

and i pray, one day, this boy will know what his mother–a girl who had no one–gave up so that he could be someone.

and this, more love than most will ever know…

(begging you: pray for dear joey, too?… thank you.)

*also, i am being interviewed by beautiful kamana over here; won’t you check it out?*

1. link up a post (old or new) between wednesday and friday that you feel is ‘broken’ or ‘imperfect’ or somehow redemptive
2. put the ‘imperfect prose’ button at the bottom of your post, so others can find their way back here (see button code in right-hand column of my blog)
3. read at least one other person’s linked-up prose, and give ’em praise!

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*painting by emily wierenga. prints and original of ‘Mother and Child’ available here*