JUDITH by M Teresa Clayton
"We wait all these years to find someone who understands us, I thought, someone who accepts us as we are, someone with a wizard's power to melt stone to sunlight, who can bring us happiness in spite of trials, who can face our dragons in the night, who can transform us into the soul we choose to be. Just yesterday I found that magical ‘Someone’ is the face we see in the mirror: It's us and our homemade masks." – Richard Bach
“Deep breath now Judith, and push!” the nurse lifted her shoulders as Judith strained with all her might. “One more push, Judith! Her head is out! Let’s get those shoulders on this next push, shall we?”
The room was flooded in light and a blue paper drape blocked her view of the doctor’s hands as he worked intently with her newborn daughter.
“Is she okay?” Judith barely got the words out.
“She is a fine healthy little baby girl”, the doctor answered. “Let’s get her stats and then we’ll bundle her up for you.”
Holding her baby girl was perhaps the most wonderful moment in Judith’s life. She wiped a tear from her eye trying hard not to remember… Oh, how she missed her mother and wished she were here to see her beautiful grandchild. Besides her mother, this little angel was the one thing in her life that would bring her joy. Judith instantly fell deeply in love with her baby girl.
“Her name is Lily, Lillian Abigail Burton,” Judith spoke as the nurses and doctor busily tended to their tasks.
Judith wanted a normal life for her little girl and, of course, that meant a daddy. However, Judith seemed to be cursed with suitors whose perversions were unsuitable for the role of father. Judith would meet a young man, go out on a few dates and find herself lying either defeated or defiled beneath him. There were those who simply lost interest after… and there were those whose interests were controlling and sadistic. Those who crossed that line and became a threat were dealt with. All that mattered to Judith was protecting Lily; keeping her safe.
Judith maintained a delicate balance of loving Lily, working to provide for her, and entertaining young men in her desperate attempt to find a suitable father for her daughter and maybe, just maybe, a loving companion for herself.
Judith dropped Lily off at Mrs. Henderson’s on the way to work. The lovely old woman lived on the first floor and was lonely, just like Judith. The two had formed an instant friendship over their one shared love – Lily. Mrs. Henderson and Lily formed a bond not unlike any natural grandmother and granddaughter.
“Come on in, Judith and have some tea.” Mrs. Henderson was like the grandmother Judith never had. Her own grandmother had passed long before Judith was born.
Mrs. Henderson would always extend a hot cup and warm loving words that Judith craved desperately.
“I’d love to have some tea, but I don’t want to be late for work.” Judith reached out to take Mrs. Henderson’s thin and weathered hand. “I have a double shift today and with the tips, I’ll be able to pay you for watching Lily.”
No matter how much Judith insisted on paying her, Mrs. Henderson would not accept any money for looking after the little girl. “She is like a grandchild to me, a blessing. I love that little girl and we enjoy each other’s company. Buy her something, Judith.” Mrs. Henderson continued. “I have enough money to last me, dear.
To show her appreciation, Judith would run errands for the old woman and bring her a slice of pie from the diner where she worked. Then they would sit and have tea together, exchanging stories and warming each other’s hearts with their shared love for Lily.
She had found a job as a waitress two days after moving into her apartment. It seemed as if there was an angel watching over her. It was a steady paycheck and she enjoyed meeting new people.
When Judith said goodbye to Lily she would kiss her fingertips and then transfer the kiss to Lily’s tiny little head, just like her mommy did for her.
Judith had worked at Dunmore’s Diner a little over six years. Mr. Dunmore was a gentle man who tried to give Judith as many peak hours as he could so she would take home more tips. Mrs. Dunmore was a tough old bird with little or no compassion for anyone but herself. The Dunmore’s were unable to have children and the Mrs. resented the special attention Judith received from Mr. Dunmore, always offering her extra hours when they were available so she could take care of her daughter.
Mr. Dunmore always greeted Lily with a big smile and a free ice-cream soda when she came to visit, but Mrs. Dunmore would bang the dishes loudly and growl to her self as she paced back and forth from one end of the counter to the other.
Judith would just ignore Mrs. Dunmore and smile adoringly at Lily as she enjoyed her ice-cream soda. Yes, it did seem as if a guardian angel looked out for them.
But, finally the day arrived when there was no angel keeping watch. Here again, was another day that would send a ripple through her happy reality.