Imagine it is 9:30 p.m., you are in the middle of watching a movie, home alone on your couch. You jump up to take a restroom break and hear your front door open and close. Most of the lights are out, you grab an implement and flick on the lights, yelling a stream of expletives! Staring back at you, is a forlorn, tired-looking, five-year-old girl. She does not even flinch or seem unused to hearing such things. She looks at you with big eyes and remarks, “I am so hungry, do you have any food?” The first thought that races to your mind is, this is a distraction. It must lead to a setup where looters are waiting in the wings to burst through the door at any moment. You grab your cell phone, take the girl’s hand and walk her out to the driveway, dialing 911. All the while, the little girl is chatting away. You look down and notice her legs are covered with prickly breyers from a long walk. Her shoes are on the wrong feet. She has on zip-up bunny PJs, with ears. She explains she left the house when Mommy passed out, and it got dark pretty quick. You figured she’s been out for at least two and a half hours wandering alone. You think, I have to lock my door earlier and realized you were about to lock it for the night, when this little intruder showed up. She could have stumbled into a dangerous situation. Thankfully there was a police cruiser 5 minutes away. They started questioning her and she gave a Hispanic first and last name. She lived somewhere “in a house”. She gave her mother’s name and a knowing look seemed to come over the eyes of the attending officers. All the while she is tugging at your arm, saying how hungry she is. You look at the officers and realizing you cannot feed her, and you do not wish to look complicit in any way. Still, you run into the kitchen and grab a lollipop you got on Valentine’s Day and hand it to your intruder. She looks at you with big grateful eyes. She is whisked away in the police car. You make several attempts to follow up on the end story. Did she get food? Was she taken home to the environment that sent her out in search of sustenance? You sit on your couch, overwhelmed, and weeping. You could have done more. But you know the climate today and anything would look like something wrong. The tears fall, she just wanted food, something to fill her belly.
This is a true account of what happened to my brother last night. He lives in Spring Hill, Florida. This took place, for those of you that know, in the quadrant inside Elgin Blvd, Deltona, Northcliffe and Mariner. The police alluded to the fact that, they had complaints similar, in a home about 1.5 MI down from my brother’s house. I am being specific, as I know many of my old compadres have contacts, and/or work directly in law enforcement, the local Domestic violence shelter, nurses, and that some of you may be aware of the situation. She may have been passed off into a temporary foster situation.
I wept tears with my brother as he recounted the story to me. The thoughts that come to mind, is that … I still know, all lives matter. This girl’s life matters. Her skin is olive complected. For her to walk out the front door in search of food, at that time of night, so hungry she went to the first door that opened is desperation. Yes, black lives matter, to me, all life matters. That is not racist, that is empathy for the human race, ALL human life. It is gut-wrenching sadness for any child, of any ethnicity, whose belly is not full. Who has parents that don’t care. Any child that is neglected.
We are ALL in this hot mess together. For me, it is the plight, the situation the child was going through that matters. Not gender, color of skin, but a hungry child, neglected, and wandering the streets in the dark at 9:30 pm, looking for something to eat.
I also want to thank God the police were there. What would my brother have done? What would he have been accused of if he had nowhere to turn, or no one answered when he dialed 911? Sometimes we have to think things all the way through.
Covid 19, the upheaval we have gone through as a society, has left many jobless, turning to substances like alcohol and street drugs to numb the pain. There is fighting, mayhem, dysregulation of families.
What is needed, is healing, empathy and concern for each other. We all need to make it out the other side of this, whatever this is, intact. I also hope and pray, we make it out as better people. God have mercy on us. Alice M. Pirola