I was sitting on the steps at the courthouse, my stomach in knots. My purpose for being there was to file the remaining papers for my custody case coming up on Monday, and just the thought of submitting more paperwork to be served to my ex was nerve-wracking enough. So I was sitting on the steps, trying to work up the nerve to just walk in the court door and request the files I needed for my case. And I prayed.
“Lord, I know I am trying not to ask you for too much. But I really need your help now. I need strength to get up and file the papers I need to file, and I need help in that courtroom on Monday. Please help me!”
“Do you have a cell phone?” a girl asked me as she walked up to me from across the parking lot, stopping my internal prayer immediately. She wore lots of eye makeup, and hoop earrings larger than her ears. But her bright eyes and her nervous giggle gave away her innocence. I reached into my purse and pulled out my cell. “Never mind,” she said. “I’m not even sure who to call.” Upon more information, I learned that her 19 year old boyfriend had just been arrested, and he had asked her, without her driver’s license, to move the car. It was in the 90 minute parking, and had already been there for a half hour. And she was nervous about moving it, as she might get in trouble. I agreed that it really wasn’t the best course of action. She finally asked me if I could move it, and I agreed to help her out.
Together we walked to the car. “It has a flat tire!” I said, upon inspection. She sheepishly said she knew. I hesitantly said that I guess I could move it to the sheriff’s parking lot, but I was really nervous about driving on a flat tire, because it would ruin the car. We finally decided that the best thing we could do was drive her in my car to a family member’s house in town so she could get help.
“What’s your name?” she asked, once in the car. It was silly that we hadn’t even gotten that far in the conversation.
“Crissi,” I said. “What’s yours?”
“Maricella. It’s nice to meet you, Crissi” And she stuck her hand out and took mine.
“How old are you, Maricella?” I asked. She told me she was almost 16. She asked how old I was. I told her 28. She was surprised, telling me she thought I was only 19. Oh bless her!!! She had an earnestness about her. She was so brutally honest about her life, innocently so, and jabbered on and on about her family and boyfriend like it was all my business. She told me she had 5 sisters and one brother, ranging from 19 years to 5 months. She was excited about starting to work once she was 16 so she could have her own money, and talked about her cousin who was 17 and already was able to afford her own car. And she talked about how none of her family and friends liked her boyfriend.
“How long have you been with him?” I asked her. She said only 3 months, but they had known each other for 2 years. She asked why I had been at the courts, and I briefly told her that I was going through some custody and restraining order issues with my ex. She asked if he was in jail too, and I told her that he was, but he had been bailed out. I asked her why her boyfriend was in jail. She told me it was on domestic violence issues involving his last girlfriend, and some drug issues were threatening to complicate it. I told her about my past experience with my ex, and now he was doing the same to his new girlfriend. “And since I have children with him, I will never have him out of my life.” I told her that I hesitated to stick my nose in her business, but I warned her that a man who has these issues never changes unless he gets the help he needs to overcome them. She swore that she had already informed him that if he hit her, she was gone and the police would be involved. I heard myself at 17 in her words. “Kind of a lot of stuff to be going through in a relationship that’s so new, huh?” I mused. She agreed. And I let her know that even if she couldn’t rescue his car, it was really his problem, and not hers.
I dropped her off at her cousin’s house, and waited to drive away when I saw her go inside. I finished up the work I needed to do, taking pictures of houses, and then drove back to the courts to wrap up what I had initially come to do. Without butterflies, I marched into the law office, got the information from the past cases. And because the line was so long, I headed back home so I could finish getting them in order and organized for submitting first thing tomorrow morning. And then I am done until Monday.
I’m not really sure of the lesson I got from Maricella. It did make me think that if only Randy had been called out on what he was guilty of right when it started, maybe he’d be a different man today, and I never would have had to endure much of what I went through. And it made me confident that no matter what, I had to take all the action that was possible to ensure that the kids received the best possible future. Whether that includes their dad depends on him.
But as for Maricella, I pray that she received some sort of insight from me as to the future she faces with the man she is with, or others like him. I pray that I may have said the words that planted a seed of wisdom in her for a better life than the one she might be headed for. And I thank God for this welcome distraction who took away my nervousness and gave me strength.