“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Psalm 91:4. Jessica has suffered much in her nine years, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. A polite little girl with blonde hair, hazel eyes and glasses, she handles herself like a small adult, complete with crossed legs and long fingernails.
It’s not until she begins to speak that you sense the pain she has experienced. Though she communicates intelligently and measures her words carefully, there is a slight quiver in her tone and nervousness in her demeanor that speaks of a deep desire to present herself well.
“I want to tell you everything,” she begins, clicking her nails on the desk, “because I think it’s important for people who help this place to know what kids like me go through and how much we need to be here.”
Before I can respond, she continues, “My mother died of breast cancer, and then I was sexually abused.”
She sits bravely in her chair, blinking frequently, the picture of practiced resilience. She is so young. About my son’s age. I bite my lip and scribble notes on the pad in front of me until I can will away my tears. I wasn’t ready for the things she had to say.
“My dad is living in a rehab house, and I pray he gets better,” Jessica said. “He is my dad. My two brothers had other dads. I hope my dad will make better choices next time, because I love him, too. My mom had breast cancer when she was pregnant with my brother. She had surgery to remove the cancer. Then, she got pregnant with me, and the cancer came back. After I was born, she had more cancer surgery, but she never got well. I remember her all the time. I remember being kind of attached to her. I wanted to be with her all the time. Sometimes, she would take me to the movies. When she died, I went to her funeral, in January of last year.”
Then she added, “If you write a story about me, put a lot in there about my mom. I loved her a lot.”
Jessica is struggling to come to terms with all that she has lost and understandably battles a problem with anger almost daily.
“Sometimes, I hit people and break things,” she confessed. “I don’t really know why. It just happens. I’ve got to get better, though, because I don’t have anywhere else to go. I guess that if I ever have to leave here, they’ll just have to lock me up.”
When asked what she has learned at Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children about God and His love for her, she answered matter-of-factly, “I learned that you need Jesus in your heart and should then be baptized. I did that on Sunday. I think it will help things. My mom was wonderful, she always wanted to know God, and she prayed a lot. She’d be happy I did that, too.”
As we wrap up our discussion, she asks to see my notes. I asked her if I missed anything.
“Could you make sure,” she asked, “to tell everyone that I am really a nice person and that I have a pretty smile?”
No problem. It’s the truth.
Persons who would like to leave a lasting legacy and help Jessica and other children like her living with OBHC through a planned gift should contact Neal Wooldridge, vice president for planned giving, at 405/942-3800, ext. 4655, e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.