If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.
Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.
It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.
And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.
And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all...a love story.
The look on his face had me dropping my hands and stepping away, recognizing the fury stamped all over his features for exactly what it was. I was in trouble. Georgia’s back was to her father, and when my hands dropped she stumbled a little, grabbing at me. I gently set her aside but I let her father come without protest or warning.
I didn’t even lift my hands. I could have. I could have easily dodged the clumsy fist that connected with my jaw, but I took it. Because I deserved it.
“Dad!” Georgia shoved herself up between us. “Dad! Don’t!”
He ignored her and stared into my eyes, his chest heaving, his mouth hard, his hand shaking as he pointed at me.
“Not again, Moses. We let you in. You ransacked the house. And worse, there were casualties. This isn’t happening again.”
He looked at Georgia then, and the look of disappointment he leveled at her was far worse than the anger he’d directed at me. “You’re a woman, Georgia. Not a child. You can’t act like this anymore.”
She deflated right before my eyes.
“You hit me all you want, Mr. Shepherd. I had that coming. But don’t talk to Georgia that way. Or I’ll kick your ass.”
“Moses!” Georgia’s eyes flashed, and her spine was straight again. Good. She could be angry at me. Anger was better than defeat.
“You think you can come in here and get away with murder again? You think you can just get away with it?” Martin Shepherd said, outrage making his voice hoarse.
“None of us are the same people we used to be, Mr. Shepherd. I was one of those casualties, too. And I didn’t get away with anything. Neither Georgia nor I got away with a damn thing. We’ve paid. And we’ll keep on paying.”
He turned in disgust, but I saw his lips tremble, and I felt bad for the man. I wouldn’t like me if I were him. But it was better that we air it out.
“Mr. Shepherd?” I said softly. He didn’t stop. I thought about what Georgia had given me. I thought about the five greats. About forgiveness. And I passed it along.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Shepherd. I am. And I hope someday you can forgive me.”
Georgia’s dad missed a step, stumbled, and stopped. There was something powerful about that word.“I hope you can forgive me. Because this is happening. Me and Georgia. This is happening.”
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Amy Harmon has been a motivational speaker, a grade school teacher, a junior high teacher, a home school mom, and a member of the Grammy Award winning Saints Unified Voices Choir, directed by Gladys Knight. She released a Christian Blues CD in 2007 called “What I Know” – also available on Amazon and wherever digital music is sold. She has written five novels, Running Barefoot, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue, Making Faces and most recently, Infinity + One.
Her newest book, The Law of Moses releases November 27, 2014.