I went to the grocery store this evening and saw a woman holding up a cardboard sign as she stood in front of the grocery store entrance with her child. I didn't read it carefully. I couldn't. I couldn't look directly at the child either but she couldn't have been more than four and three was a more likely age. Just seeing her there made me sad. What I read of her sign mentioned that she had a child and didn't have money for rent. I told her that I did not have cash but asked if she would like anything from the grocery store. She said, "That's ok." I walked away and as we entered the store my daughter said that her eyes filled with tears and so my eyes filled with tears and my Zoë's eyes filled with tears. For my first few minutes in the store I felt that deep saddness that feels physical and wished that I knew where to refer her. Taking her home with me even crossed my mind but was quickly ruled out as foolish I don't know her.
She was an immigrant. From a distance she looked Indian but that wasn't possible, so then I thought that maybe she was hispanic which also seemed less likely to me. Immigrants tend to come in groups and stick together. In the few words we exchanged I tried to place her accent, her looks, Middle Eastern perhaps? Turkish? Had she left an abusive situation? Had someone died and left her alone? She had a child so at some point she wasn't alone. She had an accent and there was something different about her style of dress...Did her husband send her out to beg? Did he do it to punish her? I can't make any sense of it. I walked away and she is with me. No mother should ever have to beg to put a roof over her child's head. ...I fear, however, that more mothers will be begging if Boehner gets his way with the budget and I am deeply saddened but it seems to me that it is the idea of country that is important to him and not the people, We the Others.
As we walked out of the store I looked to see if she was still there. I exited the store away from her. I looked and hoped that she wasn't there. I didn't see her. Reluctantly, I looked again and again I didn't see her. I didn't want to see her. I wanted to be able to write a happy ending. Just when I had begun to convince myself that she had acquired what she lacked my daughter yells out, "They're still there" and my heart sinks. I pray for them tonight and I am more driven than ever to help. This should not be.