The memo for moms. Whatever it says, my mom didn't get it.
Not in time for me.
Sadly, my family home was a nutty mess. You don't need the details. There are enough of them that if you can't picture it from your own, a neighbor or friend's experience, you've seen them on TV.
I got lost in my family's house. Not that it was terribly big but there didn't seem to be a place for me and my parents did not see me. They didn't know me, or want to. My loneliness was of proportions far beyond what we may think young children are capable of. My despair was desperation. Did you know seven, eight, nine year old children contemplate suicide? I did.
Then Betty found me. Somebody found me. A human being, an adult who cared, who SAW me, who listened and laughed and took me seriously. A person to whom I could bring my questions and observations and opinions (lots of those) about life.
To her mind, she simply stood at her door and talked to me for an hour.
To my mind, she saved my life.
When I was ready to give up. She saw me. And cared.
She told me last week that it had "worried me terribly what I did to save your life."
"Worry?" I asked.
"Yes, I worried, after you wrote a few years ago and told me I saved you I wondered and worried what on earth it could have been that you needed saving from, and what was going on. I was terribly worried about you."
Not without reason. Bless her heart, she worried about me. Had anyone ever really said that to me before? Really. Had I ever heard it?
So I told her what I don't need to tell you. And she understood. And she was grateful herself for all the hours --- one a day --- she spent standing in that hot sunny doorway of hers, with the powder blue carpet underfoot, simply listening to me being human. She saw me. And heard me to speech.
She listened, as Lily Tomlin wrote, "with the same intensity most people reserve for speaking."
And so I survived.