The year 2008 ended on an intense note for me. I’d lost my job on November 7, and could find nothing else. I’d searched, putting in applications all over Texarkana. I called back everywhere, only to be told I wasn’t what they were looking for. I’d spent most of my time at the hospital with my mother, as she went through her health problems and the surgery that saved her life. After she fully recovered from that, I redoubled my efforts on my job-search. It was thanks to family and friends that Sedona had a good Christmas. She got more things than she thought, and was a happy little camper. I didn’t tell her what had been going through my mind. I was going to have to leave Texarkana, to find work. I was losing our place to live, and was putting everything back into storage, in preparation for the move.
By New Year’s Day, Sedona knew I was preparing to leave. I didn’t know, at the time, where I was going, or where I’d live. I only knew I had to find someone to take in Sedona. She needed a place to live. I’d lived in the van with her when she was four, but refused to do that to her, again. I knew I’d be homeless for a while, and would have no babysitter. And didn’t know how long I’d go without work.
It just so happened, my ex-husband had to make a trip to South Texas, to help a friend. He could go out of his way, if I rode with him, to Montgomery, TX. So I went. We stopped by the store where I’d worked a year ago, so I could talk to the manager, Karim. I simply said to him, “You told me, when I left, that you’d hire me back. If I come back, do I have your word that I’ll have a job, when I get here?”
His response: “You were a good worker. You were good with the customers. If you come back, you’ve got a job.”
I returned to Texarkana, to get work done on my van, and continue moving out of the house. On the night of Friday, January 9, I was chatting online with my brother. He was stuck in New Caney, TX. If I went just about an hour out of the way, I could swing by and pick him up. I also talked to my uncle who lives in Mississippi. Sedona had a place to go. And I would have a second on my little journey: my brother.
Saturday morning, January 10, I had the van loaded and ready to go. Sedona and I went to the nursing home to spend time with Mom, and to meet my aunt and uncle, and my cousin and his family. My aunt showed up, too. It was like a mini-reunion. I got to meet my cousin’s wife and daughter, for the first time. And it was the first I’d seen Uncle Richard and Aunt Elaine in many years. Sedona, on the other hand, had been in constant contact with them, chatting online. She adores them.
That day was very emotional for me. Never have I been separated from my little girl. But I knew this was a necessary thing. I cried, as I signed over temporary custody of my beloved daughter to my cousin and his wife. Sedona began to cry, though she didn’t want anyone to see her do it.
We prayed together, as a family. We all held each other. We upheld each other. As they prepared to leave for Mississippi-Sedona would be going on to Alabama-I held my baby girl. I looked her in the eye. She was so sad, and we both cried. All I could say to her was, “I’m NOT giving you away, Baby. This is only temporary.” She could only nod. “I’m NOT giving you away. I would NEVER do that! When I’m ready for you, I’ll send for you.”
“When, Mommy? When can I live with you, again?” Her green eyes were filled with unshed tears.
I held her to me and whispered into her hair, “By summer, at the latest. Not longer. I promise.”
When they pulled out, I sat in my van, and broke down. I couldn’t stop crying. That little girl is the center of my world. The core of my very being. My reason for pushing forward. The song “In My Daughter’s Eyes” says so much about how I feel about Sedona. Life would not be the same for me.
I’d planned on staying one more night in Texarkana, and heading out the next morning. But I couldn’t do it. Too much of her was there. I left immediately, beginning my little journey back to Conroe, TX.
I picked up David in New Caney. And, oddly, he had enough money on him to cover one week at the Lodge Motel in Conroe, TX. We didn’t have to sleep in the van, after all. But I also knew it was no place for Sedona. I called Karim, to let him know I was here. And he told me to come into the store on Monday morning.
I was put to work, immediately. Starting on Tuesday, January 13. And our little adventure began.