You don’t know her, but her name is Baby Jane Doe. I met her five years ago at Baystate Hospital. We were taking home my new baby sister, Ava. But Baby Jane Doe had been there for days, and nobody had come to take her home. She was beautiful with dark brown skin and curly black hair. Her eyelashes were thick and long. I asked the nurse where her mother was. She said she had abandoned the baby. I asked her who would take Baby Jane home. She said she will be a “ward of the state.”
I asked my mother if we could take her home and she too could be my baby sister. It was clear the grown-ups weren’t comfortable talking about it, so I stopped asking questions. Still, Baby Jane’s face haunts me. At first, I looked everywhere for her, in every baby carriage, and in the seats of grocery carts, hoping someone had chosen her to be their very own little girl. Finally, I realized I’d never see her again.
Until this year. She is five years old now, and I see her everywhere. She is the little girl waiting alone at the bus stop. She is the little girl who comes home to an empty apartment, or with a new “daddy” watching TV. She is the face of hunger in shelters and the little girl in a second-hand dress. I see her so much now that I want to shut my eyes and make her go away.
But I can’t. I believe that I have to be there for her and make sure she finds the happiness that most of us have every day. Because that’s what sisters do. I believe if we all shut our eyes to make Baby Jane go away, we are all guilty of abandoning her. And when you see me, Baby Jane, please smile at me. Then you won’t feel so far away.
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