The doctor told her she couldn’t have kids. It made her feel broken. Like a busted washing machine. That is, until she met a man with a daughter.
She launched into being a mother.
Motherhood suited her. The little girl’s name was Ella, she came from her husband’s first marriage.
His previous wife disappeared years earlier, turning him into a single father overnight. Some said the woman left because of drugs. Others said she was certifiable.
But none of that mattered now because Ella had a new mother.
The wedding was in a courthouse. After signing the wedding certificate, the happy couple ate lunch at a steakhouse.
“We both had that honeymoon glow,” she said. “It was all I thought it would be.”
Eight months into marriage, the glow got snuffed out. Her husband was on his way home from Atlanta. They believe he fell asleep at the wheel. His car caught fire. He didn’t make it.
“I pretended like I was strong,” she said. “But it was a lie. The whole time, I was like ‘Why God, why? I didn’t even get a full year with him.’”
Her grief got interrupted. It was a phone call, midday. A high-pitched voice on the other end of the line. A five-year-old in Oklahoma.
“Hello ma’am,” said the voice. “Did my dad die?”
The words hit her like a stiff slap.
The little girl’s name was Sandra. His ex-wife had told nobody about her birth. One September day the woman dropped Sandra at a friend’s house and said, “I’ll be back in a few days, honey.”
She never returned.
Our heroine couldn’t sleep for two nights. She thought about Sandra, even though she’d never met her. She re-dialed the Oklahoma number one night.
“Would you like to meet your older sister?” she asked the five-year-old.
Sandra said yes.
She used her vacation time and drove with Ella from Alabama to Oklahoma. They stopped at cheap motor inns, ate truckstop food. They watched America go by at eye-level. They laughed. They talked. They grieved.
Sandra was a dead-ringer for her husband. Many tears were shed. Old photographs were exchanged.
Ella and her sister made an instant bond. They slept in the same bed that night. They ate pizza.
“They wouldn’t let each other go,” her mother says. “There was no way we were letting that child alone.”
So they didn’t. She became Sandra’s mother, and I understand the two sisters still sleep in the same bed sometimes.
That was eight years ago.
“My time with Mark was cut short,” she said. “I’ve always been like, ‘How could this happen, man?’ you know? I didn’t wanna be a widow this young.
“But now I see, there’s a bigger plan to all this. I was put here for these girls, They’re my blood, and we’ve grown up together. We’re still growing. Only family I got.”
Doctors told her she couldn’t have kids.