It happened again this morning, before dawn broke and the world was awake. There was a murder at the bottom of my garden. I could hardly abide the screams … and dreadful coo-ing. Something nasty with whiskers and a tail was killing one of the beautiful wood doves that live near our stream.
It was awful laying there, now wide awake, struggling with the decision to get on my fuzzy robe and wellington boots, find a flashlight and large object, preferably the ancient baseball bat that now resides in the attic, and march down to the water and save a life. In all reality, I had heard all this before, and knew that within a couple of minutes, the pathetic cries would end, and nature would again be doing what it is meant to do. As awful as it is.
We all know about tears in the night …. We lose loved ones, whether to death or abandonment. Romances end, couples betray one another, children sometimes break our hearts with their decisions. Investments fail, jobs are lost and dreams are shattered. We have all known the pain of disappointment. We’ve all been sad, but we grieve, mourn, regroup and recover.
Some don’t recover. There are murders happening around us, ones we don’t necessarily overhear or witness, but they happen just the same. There are women who are abused physically or emotionally every day. Statistics report that at least four women will die every day or night at the hands of the man she thought loved her. Every night spirits are being crushed and the children living in those homes are terrified, their precious innocence being lost forever.
I laid in bed this morning, helpless to the cries of a terrified little animal. It sickened me. There was nothing I could do. But there is plenty I can do to help my neighbor if I suspect abuse. I can befriend her. Give her my phone number. Get to know her kids by name. Make sure they know that I’m a “nice old lady” (remember that anyone over 40 is ancient to a child), and let them know I care. If I hear cries in the night, or day, I will call 911. I can offer to go with her to the police station, or to the child welfare office. I can refer her to a lawyer or help her find an apartment. I can help her physically move her belongings.
My children know all about this. When they were young teens, our family helped three women leave abusive marriages. My kids lugged boxes out to trucks, babysat the children and watched their dad drive off in a U-Haul truck loaded with remnants of a marriage, physically taking our friend and her children to another state to keep them safe. I wondered how being a part of this “hands on” would impact our family. My children became even more thoughtful, caring and discerning. They grew up into wonderful adults who have worked in human services/health and welfare professions.
We are the models our children imitate, whether we like it or not. The good and the bad. Model compassion for your children today, and CARE about the cries in the night of your neighbor. Like Mr. Rogers sang to our children “You are my neighbor.”