We lived in the same world yet saw different things. That Wednesday night a block away from my house kids rode their bikes in the street. The only sounds were voices and squeals of laughter. A block a way from Emma’s house 15-20 people were gathered on the street. The only sounds were overshadowed when gunshots rung out.
People went down. One young boy, just 14, did not get up. His older brother watched him take his last breath.
The next morning, Emma and I both went to work. On my way, I got in my car tucked safely behind my house, drove for 5 minutes and dropped my kids at daycare.
On her way, she walked to the bus stop, rode it for over quadruple the time it took me to drive and was dropped at a stop that still left her with a 5 minute walk to work.
Despite the differences in effort to get there, we both arrived at the same daycare at nearly the same time.
As I was signing in my kids, Emma overheard me complaining about my inability to find a sitter for a fundraiser that coming weekend. “I can do it!” she exclaimed.
“Really?! Great!” I replied, grateful and relieved. I offered her my address. She responded that she would use transportation. My initially confused look quickly gave way to embarrassment as I realized my privileged assumption. I told her I would pick her up. And asked where she lived.
Until this point, I had no idea what had happened on her street corner the night before. But when she told me her address, I knew. I was struck by how she remained cheery and upbeat as my disposition was hurried and “stressed.”
That night I texted her to confirm the details for Saturday night. Her response: thank you for giving me a chance. She was the first sitter to ever thank me. For the second time that day, I was stopped in my tracks by her outlook.
Two days later, I drove to her home to pick her up. Her townhouse was in a row of new brick townhouses, with front steps and an inviting porch area out front. She jumped in my car as we returned to my house. At the end of her street were balloons.
“They killed a baby there, Miss Libby.”
“I know, Miss Emma,” I responded. There were no other words.
She went on to explain the details of Wednesday night and the mother who lost her son. She told me she can’t let her own little boy, just 5, play outside. That she moved to this neighborhood from where she grew up because of the opportunity to be in the nice new townhouse, but now she was unsure.
As we continued on the drive to my home, we passed rows of houses with large green lawns. She told me her bus takes her by these homes every morning. She never knew they existed until this job.
When we arrived at our house our boys were excited to see her. My husband and I slid out as they played. When we returned that night, we found her on the chair in their room because in her words, “I never leave the babies.”
Emma went home but her kindness, attitude and calm nature stayed with us.
We had vast similarities: we were both working boy moms, trying to do the best for our children, wanting them to play outside in those precious hours between work and sleep. Yet despite our similarities and sleeping only a few miles a part, our Wednesday nights had vast differences too.
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