We never know what difficulty someone may be going through when we meet them...or when we receive a letter from them. In person, their demeanor and body language may help them express their troubles so we get a good idea of what's going on. In a letter when someone writes about what's happening, our minds add pictures to their words to fill in the blanks and we think we see what's going on.
We meet children every day but we rarely get a glimpse into their personal lives. We get letters everyday too, and sometimes that's when we see a lot more. Images raced through my mind last week when I read these words from a caregiver,
"One of our young boys taken away from his parents had a hard time going to sleep in our shelter and we didn't know how to help him. He finally told us that when he was living with his parents he knew there was a gun in the house and every night they fought and he was afraid one of them would shoot the other."
In 15 years of Pajama Program I have seen a lot but this vision was new to me. I can't imagine the pictures in this boy's mind as he tried to find sleep night after night. How frightening for him to have such terrifying visions playing over and over in his mind.
How does someone even begin to see how to help him, calm his frayed nerves, and change those pictures that have been seared into his mind?
The staff who live with and care for these children are angels on earth. I see their wings every day. It is their comfort, love and just plain kindness that gets these children through their darkest days. We receive lots of notes from caregivers and children, and thankfully many are filled with light like these,
"Giving the children new pajamas of their own gives them a sense of optimism in how they are perceived by the outside world - a world they feel has shunned them."
"You didn't know us but you bought us PJs and books."
"I like it here because now I'm not afraid (to read) and now I am a better reader."
"I like my PJs because they are comfortable, you can also run in them."
"You can also run in them?!" Sometimes the letters make us smile or laugh. Sometimes they make us cry. But most of the time the letters make us extremely grateful for the angels in the world changing the pictures.