Ms. Bennett closed the door and Maya reached under her pillow to grab her phone. Looking at the picture a second time, her anger turned to sadness as a tear rolled down her cheek.
Why did he leave us? What did that other woman have that my mom couldn’t give him? I’m his daughter. Why doesn’t he love me? What’s so wrong with me that he could just walk out of my life and never come back?”
More tears began to flow, but Maya quickly suppressed them and re-hardened her heart. She refused to let this man dominate her thoughts and cause her to break down in tears. She had to be strong. For herself. For her mom.
Maya set her phone on her nightstand and walked to the bathroom. Seeing the redness in her eyes and the bags under her eyes made her feel really self-conscious. I’m so ugly! No wonder my dad left! Look at me!
After brushing her teeth, Maya returned to her room and got dressed for bed. It was 9:18pm. She grabbed her phone and returned to Instagram, switching back and forth between that and Facebook.
Ms. Bennett got home from the store while Maya was in the bathroom. After hearing her daughter return to her room, Ms. Bennett went upstairs and knocked on Maya’s door. “May I come in?” “Sure”, Maya replied.
Ms. Bennett walked into Maya’s room and sat on the edge of her bed. “I know you had a long day today, and I just want you to know I love you very much and I’m sorry you’re going through this. I have no idea what’s caused these panic attacks, but together, I promise we’ll figure it out.”
Looking in her mom’s eyes, Maya felt a mix of emotions. She particularly felt sadness and pain for her mom because of what her dad did. She somehow felt it was her fault, even though she had no idea what she could’ve done to make him want to leave.
She also felt guilt for not telling her mom about her own sadness and pain from their loss. She was wrestling internally with the pain of her dad leaving, yet she kept it bottled up inside, only for her and God to know about.
She felt anger and frustration with her mom for no longer taking her to church ever since her dad left. I used to love going to that church and playing with my friends on Sunday mornings. Now we’re all grown up and I haven’t seen them in 6 years. Even if I went this Sunday, they probably wouldn’t remember me.
She pushed the negative feelings aside and reached out for a hug. Maya and her mom embraced, then Ms. Bennett played with Maya’s hair for a brief second before standing up. “Goodnight Maya. Get some rest so you can do well on your test tomorrow. Love you.” “I will mom. Goodnight, love you, too.”
Ms. Bennett walked out of Maya’s room, closing the door behind her. Heading downstairs to the kitchen, she stopped as a picture on the wall grabbed her attention. Looking at the picture brought tears to her eyes. There stood little Maya, 6 years old, at Glad Tidings Church. She was standing next to her mom, holding her hand, and they were both smiling from ear to ear.
Standing there in the hallway, memories began to flood Ms. Bennett’s mind. It was Christmas Day, and they were celebrating by going to church and hearing about the birth of Jesus. Maya was wearing her beautiful green dress with red lace at the bottom. Ms. Bennett was also wearing a green dress, but without lace and with a red belt wrapped around her waistline.
She had asked her husband to go with them to church that day, but he said he had other things to do. So she and Maya went alone. Despite the sadness of her husband’s refusal to join them on Christmas Day, Ms. Bennett and Maya made the best of it. They talked with several friends before and after service, and really got better acquainted with some of the other church go-ers. At that point, Ms. Bennett and Maya had been attending Glad Tidings for six months, and were really liking the church and the people.
Maya played with the other kids in kids church every Sunday, and loved learning about God and Jesus. She even occasionally brought home some cute drawing pages she colored. Ms. Bennett thought to herself, I believe I still have a few of those pages in the attic. Collecting her thoughts as she wiped away tears, she remembered how much Maya loved going to church. She looked forward to it every Sunday. And so did she.
It was the one day of the week where they both felt peace despite the turmoil going on at home. But after her husband left, Ms. Bennett couldn’t face the church. She felt ashamed and humiliated. What would everyone say? What would they think? She couldn’t face their judgment.
A couple people who she had gotten to know really well reached out when she stopped coming for a couple weeks. She made up an excuse that she wasn’t feeling well and needed some time to rest. They prayed for her, but after a couple months, they became worried and stopped by her house.
Again, feeling shame and humiliation, she turned them away, assuring them she just needed to rest. When they asked about her husband, she simply said he wasn’t there. She could never bring herself to admit he had left her for another woman. She didn’t even want to admit it to herself, let alone someone else. Maya was sitting on the stairs when Ms. Bennett opened the door, overhearing the conversation and feeling deep sadness. She had lost her dad, and now her church family.