Her face haunts me. I cannot get her angelic image out of my head. It is the face of a baby, less than a year old. It is the face in a carrier with a little knit hat on her head and bundled tightly to protect her from the fall air. Her eyes looked into mine and pierced me. I locked my eyes into hers knowing I would never see her again. I wanted to avert my gaze, but I knew if I did, I would hate myself more than I hate the world right now.
The elderly gentleman who carefully placed her carrier on a wheelchair gently escorted her and her tear stained faced mother inside a hospital campus where I hope that good care for both awaits. I did not return to the taxi until they were both out of my sight.
I got into the taxi, numb and lifeless and lit a cigarette.
Anyone else would have seen just another cute baby. Perfectly normal and lovely in every fashion. Those people did not learn what I leaned when this ride started.
Those people would not know that hours ago she was being treated for vaginal bleeding and severe tears. The assailant was her own father. A father that the mother did not want a judge to allow visitation. The mother knew the man was a monster. It did not matter. A judge let the plea of a mother fall on the deaf ears of justice.
I thought I had seen and heard it all. I thought there was no more that could phase me. No. There was. It was a woman who while we were on our way to the destination told me her baby had just been molested. Then, in detail, told me the severity.
My mind flooded to my own daughter when she was a baby. So innocent. So vulnerable. So beautiful. Completely trusting on all of us. Have you ever known a baby's smile? The smile of a baby does not know how to lie. The smile of a baby does not have any disguise or pretense. It is pure. It is happy to see you. There is also the cry of a baby. Not the cry that wants formula or just wishes to be held. The rare cry of terror that comes form a baby. It stops you dead in your tracks.
Someone heard that cry of terror and kept on going. Someone heard that cry of terror and did not yield from causing it. Someone violated the trust of a being with no defenses, no survival skills and only trust.
There are no words to offer comfort to a loving mother. Every break in her voice into tears gave me pause. I offered on the back of my card the few resources I know in the hopes that they will be able to help her seek comfort, aid and maybe even justice and healing. But there was no clever word play. There was no difference I could make. There was nothing but pain and the awesome presence of the unthinkable having happened.
Every so often the baby would make the noises babies make. It is a sound that makes me smile in most cases. But this time there was a wince that went down to my very soul. A helplessness. A helplessness compounded by the tears of a mother.
We were on our way to a facility that was equipped to handle this kind of matter. The hospital was not. We live in a world where there are places equipped for this matter? We have to live in a world where this is a specialty? What.the.fuck.
When we got to the destination I wanted to ensure we were at the right entrance. I went in to meet a concierge and as soon as I told him who was in the taxi, he got everything ready and made a phone call. He came out and helped me assist mother and child for their entry into the building. For the first time I saw the mother face to face. She was pale, tired and numb. Her baby was all that existed. She ceased to. I looked her in the eyes and spoke my peace. They were not platitudes. They were the most genuine words of care from one parent to another that I could come up with. What I said does not matter and I don't think one word I said registered to her.
Remember what I said earlier about the smile of a baby?
In the final moments of my face to face with the baby...
That's what hurts the most.