In the heart of a Mexican slum, there was a girl who preferred to go by the name of Honey, because she said it is the most delicious thing in the world. The world, as far as she knew, consisted of feral cats, soiled clothes, boiled hotdogs, and a home whose doorstep met her swaddling cloth on her third month of life. If her infant eyes could have understood the symbols on the tattered rug beneath her, she would have known, not perhaps why she was there, but that she could call “there” Pan de Vida. It was when a mission trip led me across that same threshold that I had the honor to meet Honey.
I found myself in a safe house for beaten women and orphaned children, and there she stood, silent, with a stare so broken it could penetrate the heart of the most fortified tower. Still struck by her gaze, I watched in horror as she doubled over and vomited on the cold tile floor. I scooped up the tearless, shoeless child before me and we entered the empty bath house, neither of us understanding how the other could live the way that they did, nor a single word that they uttered.
On the floor of that bath house I sat, my arms wrapped around a three-year-old life filled with more rejection and painful experiences than I would ever have the misfortune to endure myself, and I remained there. Endless seemed the time that we occupied that room, alone, with my fingers stroking through her hair, hoping to leave some semblance of comfort in their wake. I knew one word of the Spanish language, and with it I tried to tell her that everything was, and would be alright.
As I tried to squeeze the entirety of the world’s love into Honey, I leaned in and whispered “Bien…bien…bien…”
I told her it was good.
Years later the tenderness of that moment returns to me and I become lost in thought. I don’t know if she still calls the shelter her home, I don’t know if her favorite taste is still honey, and I don’t know if she’s still the sweet fighter that I knew her to be; we never spoke again.
The one thing I am certain of is that in that short period of time, sandwiched between years of struggle and abandonment, that little girl had someone to hold her. For a moment, we found ourselves in a capsule of serenity, and against the barrage of everything that had ever gone wrong in her life, for just a moment, all was good.