. . . and the end of joy may be grief. (Proverbs 14:13 ESV)
A lattice screen separated them.
Mother, I don’t want to confess today. I’ve confessed the same things for over fifty years now. I just came because you asked me to, remember? Can I ask you a question, Mother? Did you ever want to have children?
Do you remember that I almost had a baby? I lost her in Kansas City. I buried her deep inside me after that. Soon after that, I ran away from that place you sent me. I hitch hiked to St. Louis, and lived under the bridge with other lost babies.
Compassionate women would bring us soup and socks in the winter. One of them offered me a job at an adoption agency, as a housekeeper at their home for unwed mothers. She helped me apply for aid, and I went to school to become a counselor. And eventually, I helped other mothers either keep their babies or give them to another mother who couldn’t have her own babies.
Mother, I’ve saved so many babies by helping them find homes of their own. But I never did have any babies in St. Louis, not of my own.
Can I tell you something else, Mother? Every baby I ever held in my arms, I pretended they were my own, before I gave them away.
Mother . . . I miss you.
She knelt next to the lattice screen and placed an old tin can next to the porch, where her Mother used to sit snapping green beans on a summer night. There was exactly fifty-six dollars in the can.