I noticed her long before she came up to me and started talking. She was holding the hand of a darling little girl who could not have been more than 3 years old.
The little girl was cute as can be but she was crying as her mother pulled her across the parking lot. I watched this scene unfold as I got out of my car and started walking towards the main doors of the grocery store. This mother was probably less than 100 pounds, had dark circles under her eyes, dirty clothes, was shaking like a leaf, had 3 piercings on her top lip, and was obviously very upset and stressed out about something. And whatever it was that had upset her, she was taking it out on this little girl.
I must have looked alarmed and concerned. I think that is why she walked up to me and said, "Please help us."
She told me this was her daughter and explained to me that her little girl was very sick with cancer. She said that she went to get the little girl her medicine at the pharmacy, but she didn’t have enough money to purchase the pills. She said that she had almost enough money to get the “life saving medicine,” so she needed my money and my help. I told her I didn’t have any money with me.
Then this woman said, “Look how much she is hurting!” she told me that her poor daughter needed this medicine immediately and because of the cancer, her daughter was in pain and that was making her cry. She said she was homeless and didn’t want to beg for money because she didn’t want to expose her little girl to begging.
This is the point where I told her that I knew the pharmacy could give her a portion of the medication, even if it was just one pill, so she should just go back and pay for whatever she could afford.
Then, of course, she changed her story. Now the story was that she didn’t actually have any money but, she was too embarrassed to tell me that. And THIS was when she said that to save her any more embarrassment it would be great if I could just go in and say I am her and pay for the whole thing.
I offered to get her daughter a cookie, drink, or maybe fruit or something to cheer her up a bit while she worked something out with the pharmacist, but she didn’t like that idea. She got upset at me, told me if her daughter died it would be my fault, smacked her little girl on the bottom, told her to shut up and stormed off.
I felt sick. I felt absolutely sick for that little girl. I saw this woman hit her again and that was it for me. I walked in and talked to the lady at the pharmacy. It was no surprise to find out that the drugs this woman wanted were not for any cancer, not for her daughter and they were very familiar with who this woman was. They wanted to call the police but by this time she was long gone. I instantly felt guilty. Like I could have done something... anything at all. But I will never know if I could have helped.
I felt that little prompting telling me to do something, but I wasn’t sure what to do so I ignored it. I would rather know I tried than wonder if I could have made a difference. I wish I knew that they both were going to be okay, that there would be no more crying. How do you know when it is alright to step into someone else’s life?
There is no law against being a mother who isn’t very motherly. It isn’t against the law to be a selfish, lying, manipulative mother. If there was such a law, my own mother would be imprisoned! I wish that just once, over many, many years and before the damage had been done, that someone would have stepped in and helped my brother, my sisters and me.
Thankfully, my grandparents stepped in at the last moment and literally saved us. Maybe the next person who comes across that cute little girl will know what to do and how to help. I hope that if there is a next time for me, I will know what to do as well.
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