Sunday, July 6, 2008
An Angel in The Hand is Worth Two in The Bush
When you work with children as a course of your career as opposed to raising your own, you will indeed cross paths with some extraordinary young souls. I say that because we as parents usually consider our own children extraordinary. This story took place sometime between, 1994 and 1996, while I was a D.A.R.E. officer for the Bothell, Washington Police Department. During the school year I was responsible for delivering the anti drug message to seven elementary schools in the city limits of Bothell. I remember many of the 6th graders that were required to listen to my program, most of them because they were really little shits with skin. However, the ones I remember the most were the ones that taught me something. They helped me grow and understand more about human nature then they will ever know. One of these young people went by the name of Charlie. She was a dark haired, quite kid. The other students seemed to ignore her most of the time and I could sense a loss of self-esteem in her eyes. Her skin was somewhat pale when compared to the rest of her boisterous classmates. But something else was present that most would not see. She had a glow about her, almost angelic. She did not speak much during class but managed to smile when the time was right. It was just before Easter and I entered the classroom. Sitting on Charlie’s desk was one of the most amazing Easter egg trees I had ever seen. A limb about sixteen inches tall with small branches surrounding it. No vegetation was present but hanging of each small limb was a hollowed colorful Easter egg. They were attached with ribbons of various colors. I had never seen anything like it. I commented on the art work and Charlie told me that she had been its creator. I was shocked when Charlie said she had made it for me. The work this child had put into it was astounding. It was clear that Charlie had a heart and talent and she remained one of my favorite kids during the rest of time as a D.A.R.E. officer. When I was finished with the class at Charlie’s school I didn’t see her again for sometime.
The Christmas that followed was a cold one for that part of Washington. The officers I worked with on that department were very business like, but most of them had a heart of gold. During that holiday season one of the patrol officers saw Charlie out in the cold pulling a dead bush out of the ground. This was near the little apartment that she lived in. She was accompanied by a few of her siblings. The officer pulled up next to Charlie and asked her what she was doing. Charlie told him that Christmas was at hand. This bush was to be fashioned into a Christmas tree for her siblings. The officer was taken back by what Charlie had said. Imagine a twelve year old girl rising above a horrible situation and trying to provide some sort of normalcy for her family. This is true inner strength. During further investigation the officer found out that Charlie’s family was in a pretty tough spot. Her father was not able to provide for the family and had physically abused her mother as well as the children. The officer organized his shift and they provided not only gifts and a tree for the family, but a party with a Christmas dinner. I was very proud of those guys on that patrol shift and the detectives that took part. I wish I could have been there.
Christmas came and went as did Charlie’s father. He committed suicide within a few months of the holidays. It was tragic yes, but I know the family had been set free in some respects and could move on with their lives.
A few weeks later, I was called to the Police Department to meet with some people in the lobby. I had no idea who it was but as I walked into the lobby I was confronted with an angelic smile. Standing before me was Charlie and her mom and siblings. Charlie had grown in the short time since I had seen her last and I remember making that statement as she rushed up to me and buried her head into my chest and sobbed. All I could do was pat her on the back and tell her it was ok. Her mother smiled and with watery eyes said that Charlie just wanted to say hi and thanked me for treating her well in my class. I felt pretty good for the rest of the day. The family had moved on and was going to be in another part of the state with things seemingly going well. It was about a week later that I received a letter from Charlie’s mom. She said that it was nice to see me that day and that it was the first time Charlie cried since her father had died. She said that I was one of the few male role models she had in her life. I feel very privileged to have been in Charlie’s life even if it was for a short time. I know I always say that I am not religious but I am pretty sure that angels are out there and I am also sure that one of them is named Charlie. I hope that she and her family are doing well and yes, I will even pray for it.