Faith On Every Corner - May 2022

Page 64

JUST SHOW UP Rebecca Yauger

“Are you hungry?” I finally asked as the credits rolled on the screen. “Not really.” “Have you eaten today?” She shook her head no. There was nothing I could do for her. She was so sad. This sweet, twelve-year-old girl had just lost her dog, finding him in the yard where he had died overnight. I didn’t know how to console her or comfort her. First, I didn’t have pets when I was growing up. Second, I didn’t have kids. Bonnie would become my stepdaughter when I married her father in a few short months. And we were still figuring each other out, trying to find the neutral, mutual ground to grow our relationship. Until this day, she had been nicknamed “The Wedge.” She was so good at sitting between her dad and me on the sofa or walking between us when we were out. Understandably, she would be attached to her father. Her mom had been killed in a car accident less than two years earlier, and now her dog was dead. Vince called from his office 60 miles away to check on Bonnie. Her 16-year-old brother had gone on to school. “Could you please call her? I have several meetings today and can’t get home. She might want to hear a friendly voice.” Me? A friendly voice. I wasn’t so sure Bonnie regarded me that way yet. But what could I do? I was going to marry into this family soon enough. If I’m honest about it, I was reluctant to make the call. But I did. “Hello.” My heart broke when she answered the phone. Her voice was so soft and sad. All I could think about was that she was home all by herself and hurting. “I’m coming down,” I told her. It didn’t matter that I lived and worked 90 miles away. There was no way I could stay at work knowing that she was all alone. I was going to step into mothering mode before I was ready. When I arrived at the house, I found Bonnie watching a DVD of one of her favorite movie musicals in her loft bedroom. She was curled up in her bed, clutching a stuffed dog. So, I climbed on the bed next to her. We didn’t talk much. I wasn’t sure what to say, so we finished the movie.

“C’mon. Let’s get out of here and go eat.” I named her favorite restaurant. “You love their chicken nuggets.” She finally nodded. The thought of her favorite food worked every time. As we chowed down on french fries, burgers, and chicken nuggets, she took a long look at me. “Will you get in trouble for being here today?” “Nope. My boss loves dogs. She understands.” Bonnie nodded and dipped another fry into ketchup. But she didn’t raise it to her mouth. She kept stirring it in the ketchup. Oh no. What if this had been a mistake? What if she didn’t want me here? “Is it okay that I’m here?” “Yeah. It’s okay.” She popped the limp fry in her mouth. “It’s just that I never expected you to come. To leave work and drive all that way.” “That was an easy decision.” She tilted her head, an uncertain look on her face. “You were home alone,” I continued, “And you were sad. You shouldn’t be alone when you’re sad.” Bonnie gave me another quizzical look. She was one of the most thoughtful kids I had ever met. But then again, most kids hadn’t been through what she’d been through in her young life. “It was Mom who brought Bert home,” she finally said. “Yeah?” I sipped my drink, not entirely sure how to respond to the abrupt change of subject. “Dad was a little mad at her. We already had three dogs.” “Wait, I think your dad told me this story. Bert was Ernie’s brother. What kind of dogs are they again?”

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