Around this same time each year, it happens. A scent, a sound, or maybe just a cool breeze wafting through the room, takes my mind back to a time when I, a young mother of only 16, held in my arms a sweet little baby named April...I awoke this morning at 1:30 on the dot. The house was quiet and dark, but for the glow of the TV that Hubs had left on when he fell asleep. The first thought to enter my mind was little April and I have spent the last few hours mulling over the events of that night so long ago. Regretting that I could not see into that sweet baby's future, nor into her present days for that matter, as they couldn't have been very good.
At the time, I lived my husband and our newborn baby daughter, in a small trailer, next door to my mama. We were both just 16 and he was an abuser. Still, I tried to make the best of things. He wasn't so important. I had my baby and she was my top priority. He wasn't abusive to her. Heck, he barely even gave her the time of day. At the time, I was in the process of planning my escape from the loser.
Having the experience of caring for my younger brother and nephew, since I was just a little kid, I transitioned easily from teenager to mother. He did not move into the role of being a father. My daughter had everything she needed but with no thanks to her father.
One cold Friday night in December, there was a knock at our door. I opened it to the familiar face of my brother-in-law, an non-working, alcoholic, loser. Along with him were two drunk women and one was holding a baby. The "mother" was stumbling and her words were slurred. I can't recall our exact conversation but the main idea was that she was wanting to dump the baby off somewhere, so she could go party with my brother-in-law, whom she had just met that day. I agreed to watch the baby as I knew if she would leave her with me, a woman that she had never met before, she would leave her with anyone. I knew the baby would be safe with me/ I couldn't be sure about the next person that the woman may have asked. The whole exchange took less than ten minutes and the were gone. I had managed to find out the name and age of the baby. Her name was April and she was 4 months old.
She was wrapped in a thin blanket. Too thin for such a cold night. She had been left without so much as a spare diaper or a bottle of milk. Luckily. I had everything she would need. I sat down in an arm chair and unwrapped her blanket. She was dressed in a blue sleeper and had beautiful blue eyes to match. Her hair was thick and dark, almost black. I noticed that her little ears were pierced. She was absolutely beautiful. As if she sensed my adoration, she looked right into my eyes and gave me a huge, toothless, smile. The whole room seemed to light up. I placed her little head on my shoulder and gave her a gentle hug, "Hello, little baby!" I can still almost feel her fuzzy little head brushing against my cheek.
April remained with me through the night. She was such a sweet baby and she seemed to love everything. I sang to her, she smiled. I rocked her, she smiled. She seemed to be one of the most content babies I had ever met. Her leaving is a bit blurry to me. I recall that my brother-in-law and the second of the two ladies came to retrieve her. I'm guessing the woman was a friend of the mother, or maybe her sister. I hated to let that baby go.
In the days that followed, I tried my best to find out any information I could as to where that woman lived etc... I didn't even know her name for sure. I felt uneasy for little April. My BIL would not give me any information, as he new I wanted to report the piece of trash that he had been with. I did manage to make a report with what little information I had, but I'm sure it was basically useless.
Five moths later, on a very warm day, I had stepped over to my mother home to borrow a fan. There on the table was a copy of our local newspaper. The front page story was about the horrible death of a local 9 month old baby girl named April. According to reports, her father had been watching her while the mother was working. He said he found her in her bed, not breathing, just after the mother left. The mother claimed that the baby was fine, when she had left for work. At any rate, the rescue crew was unable to revive her and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
As the weeks went on, the truth of the situation began to be revealed. An autopsy had shown that poor April had several old injuries. including broken bones, that had already healed. She had new bruises and old bruises. She had bleeding on the brain, and on and on and on. Neighbors at the had lived in the same building claimed to have reported the mother on several occasions. Once when the baby had a black eye and the mother claimed she had fell WHILE WALKING and hit her face on a coffee table that did not exist. Several times, the 5 year old brother had knocked on doors, asking for something to eat. The stories seemed to be endless and each neighbor claimed that their reports had fallen on deaf ears.
April was robbed of her life. She should be the same age as my daughter now. I feel like I let her down. I wish I had somehow been able to have kept her and have protected her. I let her down. Everyone did.
Rest in peace, little one. I will never forget you.