Unfortunately, child abuse and child neglect are very serious issues in our Country. Statistics show that 3 out of every 5 children are abused in America. As an adult who has survived an abusive childhood I know first hand the issues that this has raised for me in life. Even though growing up in my family was difficult, I am one of the lucky ones, because I survived. But, this blog is not about me. This blog is about a little girl named Tiffany. Tiffany was one of the unlucky ones. She did not survive.
Born to a drug addicted mother, she was born prematurely and weighed only 14 ounces. She was so tiny and small and because of her size she lived in an incubator for the first 4 months of her life. When Tiffany was born I was 10 years old. She was my first cousin, my mother's sister's daughter. I remember her as being a very gentle, sweet and although she was very sick, she always smiled.
My favorite memory of her was on the Christmas that we shared together. She absolutely loved the lights on the Christmas tree and she continuously kept pushing her walker over toward the tree. Even though we kept on diverting her she was very persistent, and finally reached the tree when no one was looking. She reached up and pulled the whole tree down on herself. Now one would think that she would cry, nope, not Tiffy, instead she laughed so hard, she was so proud of herself.
Now, here comes the hard part. When Tiffany was a year and a half she was murdered. Because I was only a child, I am still not quite sure of the details. I know that my aunt left her with someone when she went out with her friends to party. While she was out someone put drugs in her baby bottle. Because there were so many unanswered questions Tiffany's case still has not been solved and remains a cold case. As a ten year old child I remember being so upset with the adults around me. I remember that I felt as though one of us (the children) could die and no one would even go to jail. I felt as though we were forgotten. I was always like the 'little mother' and felt like I needed to care for the other children in our family to make sure they were safe and after this happened to Tiffy I became very scared and lived in fear for years. As an adult I still struggle with the feeling as though I let her down and didn’t keep her safe, even though I know that I was only a child myself. Because my childhood was so chaotic I never felt like a child. Being naive and innocent could get you killed, and I didn’t want to die. I didn't want any more of us to die.
This year on the memorial of Tiffany's death I wanted to talk to her. I wanted to tell her how much I miss her and that I think of her, everyday. So, I wrote her this:
As I sit here now and reflect on the days when you made me laugh and the days when we played,
I remember your smile and how you never frowned,
your lips were like little rose petals, the softest around.
Your eyes were so curious, so large and so blue, that one would swear they were a Caribbean hue.
Your joyful and bouncy giggle brought smiles to all, sparking laughter and love to anyone hearing your call.
Your sweet little spirit so gentle and calm added such peace to our world for someone so small.
I often wonder how different my life would be if, instead, you were here with me.
I wonder what kinds of dreams you would dream, for instance, would you believe in things that can’t be seen?
If you had a chance what would you do with your life?
Would you want a career, to have kids and be a wife?
What hobbies would you do in your spare time?
And, your favorite color-would it be green like mine?
So many questions run through my mind-oh how I wish I could rewind time.
The memories are indeed bittersweet from those days and there are so many things I wish I could change.
There is a sadness that lives deep within and there is no cure for the pain that I am in, but, one thing for sure if I could go back in time, I would keep you safe as if you were mine.
But since you are gone and I am here…I will trust that God will hold you dear and keep you close to His heart and love you for me, until one day together again we will be.
I love you my little angel,
If anyone reading this knows of a child who is being neglected or abused, please, please do all that you can to help them. It may mean life or death.