The little girl stood before the small civic group on a Thursday morning before breakfast. The morning after Hurricane Ian made landfall.
The child had brunette pigtail braids. A white dress. Patent leather shoes.
It was your average weekday. Local business people gathered for a quick meeting before going to work.
Tired businesspersons sat at small circular tables, wearing sports jackets and neckties. Wearing hosiery and skirt suits. I had been invited here by my friend Howie. I was wearing a tie, if you can imagine.
I was wishing I would have never agreed to come.
When the little girl took the podium, I was wandering through the buffet line, stacking a Styrofoam plate with imitation breakfast fare that tasted more like wet napkins than it did edible organic matter.
The little girl tested the sound system by tapping the microphone loudly. The speakers nearly exploded.
TAP! TAP! TAP!
That got everyone listening.
“Can I have everyone’s attention?” said the master of ceremonies. “We have a special guest here to pray for breakfast today.”
He presented the girl. Everyone applauded.
girl’s name was Sadie. She was 9 years old. Sadie’s grandmother lives in Fort Myers, Florida, and nobody has heard from the grandmother yet.
Sadie is taking it pretty hard. Her mother is a wreck. Her father has driven down to Fort Meyers to locate the elderly woman.
Ever since Ian hit, hundreds are presumed dead in Lee County. Florida is a disaster zone.
Everyone bows their heads.
“Dear Lord,” Sadie began. “Please help the people in Florida.”
And this is all she says. She is a kid. Not a public speaker.
Her words were followed by a long silence. Sadie didn’t really know what to say. Her mother told me that her daughter had not spoken before a crowd this large before.
Sadie added nervously, “Help everyone to be okay, God.”
This was followed by another long gap.…