Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Frail fairy

There is a woman I know who was a puzzle to me, until now. The first time that I ever saw her, I wondered at the way she approached me, tentatively, almost as if she was afraid. As she came toward me across the room, I was struck by her appearance. She was like a little bird, maybe four and a half feet tall, a delicate being with wispy hair, large moist eyes and a drawn face. Weighing about ninety pounds, she was trembling as she came closer to me that day that we first met. She made me think of a little fairy woman, fresh from some Celtic glade, leary of contact with mortals.

At first, I was impatient with her skittishness and lack of confidence. It took me some time to realize that Emery lives in dread. Emery is a prisoner of worry, anguish and despair, and drags those chains around with her every day of her life. She doesn't sleep much, although she is very tired most of the time and she is plagued by phobias. Finally, I've learned why.

See, Emery has been damaged. When she was born, she was frail and suffered from birth defects that required many surgeries and much isolation. Her family let her know that she was a burden on them. Her siblings resented the attention she got because of her physical limitations and hospitalizations. Her mother let her know she was a big disappointment and would never measure up to the other kids. Most horrifying of all, a trusted family member molested Emery when she was seven. She was a precious little child, sick, and nobody protected her. Everyone failed her.

Those who failed Emery aren't suffering now. None of them are are in prison paying for the things they did to her. They don't seem to be burdened with guilt for the way they treated her. In fact, her parents are dead now and those relatives who are still alive have abandoned her, and seem not to give her a second thought. They live in well-heeled comfort, while Emery struggles to make ends meet. They gather at family parties and enjoy each other's company while Emery sits with her little cat and cries on Christmas Day and Easter. They try not to think about her, because she's out of their lives, now that they have homes of their own and new families.

She's angry - very, very angry. Deep inside, her anger has started to fester, and now Emery has more problems with her health. Her stomach aches, her arteries are closing up, she has dozens of symptoms that defy explanation. She is terrified of dying young. Her eyes leak constantly, sometimes because she cannot help crying and sometimes, just because. She always clutches a tissue because of it.

Emery has been to counselors, but they don't help much, asking her how her week was and giving her the bill. Maybe she should find a new one, I suggest. Her doctor said there is nothing more that can be done for her serious health problems. Maybe she should get another doctor, I offer.

Now that I know Emery's secret, I am dedicating a little time each day to try to pull her toward the light. I tell her that a terrible past need not ruin a bright future. I tell her to breathe deeply and to eat. I tell her that she must realize that despite what she has been led to believe, she did nothing to deserve the terrible treatment of her childhood, and that she needs to let go of it, if it is ever to let go of her. I say that the past is gone, and she will only continue to be a victim if she accepts that role.

I bought her a blessed necklace to wear, and I ask her to have faith instead of letting worry consume her; I know that faith and confidence can heal her, and worry is the opposite of faith. I tell her to try to let go of her anger, because the ones who hurt her can't feel the pain of her wrath, but she can, and it's truly only hurting her more. I try to say things that will make her laugh.

It is up to Emery now to choose to reject her ugly past and resolve to be happy, despite all that has happened to her. I hope she can rise above it and find some joy in her life.

What devastation we humans can wreak on one another.

God, help me to be extra kind each day, because everyone I meet is fighting some kind of battle.


  1. This is so horrifying to me. I can never understand how people can be so cruel. I have worked with special needs children and found it so hard to accept that one tiny little child who could not fed herself was not getting enough to eat on the weekends. Your friend is so lucky to have you.

  2. Oh Deedee, that is so sad..... but I'm glad she's found a good friend in you. It's true that we never know the story behind each person we meet.

  3. Deedee...first of all thanks for stopping by my blog today. I just read this precious story about an angel of God name Emery. Deedee, there are many people out there that are damaged by others and nothing they have done to themselves. Angels like Emery are very special to God and should be to us. I enjoyed the story and hope that as a counselor once told me...maybe Emery can learn that other people may put their baggage on our shoulders but we choose whether we will carry the extra weight. Have a good day.

  4. "I am dedicating a little time each day to try to pull her toward the light."

    How fortunate she is to have you. How kind you are. Made me decide to be much kinder today.

  5. Deedee, I'm thankful for your post today. Beautifully written and very thought provoking. Something all should read and take your lead, to reach out to someone who is hurting and needing a little love.

  6. Hi Deedee! This post is heart wrenching! Bless you for showing kindness and love to the small little bird who has known neither! I want to send her the biggest hugs - and you too, of course, for reaching out to her.

  7. That post really touched me, I'm glad she has you to help her.

  8. To have had a friend such as you would have saved me years of therapy, and much loneliness. You are a blessing to Emery. I hope your messages get through to her.

  9. We must have the courage to leave the past. To waken each day and dwell on the harm, only magnifies it. The light is within her..help her to step over her anguish..there is a good path for her... and she's found you!! How lucky is that?

  10. Thanks for your kind words, everyone. I know any of you would do the same.
    It seems like it will be very difficult for her to let go of the past. She has been nursing her pain and anger for so long, I am afraid she doesn't know any other way of life. But I will keep trying to give her a lift.

  11. What a lovely thing to do. It isn't always easy to help someone so damaged, but by showing her your steady support you are helping, no matter how much (or how little) progress you see on any given day.

  12. Deedee, I don't know what to say. I often think that I've seen a lot of life and then a story like this comes along and tells me again of the ugliness of man's deeds to man (sorry - too old fashioned to say person to person). It makes me feel so wretchedly sad. It is good to know that you are doing what you can for her. You really are such a good person.