My Friend Came To Visit My Family But I Don’t Think Mama Will Ever Let Her Leave

July 21, 1989

Sandra is supposed to leave tomorrow. She doesn’t know that no one is coming for her yet.

July 22, 1989

I can hear Sandra crying in the bedroom. It hurts my heart but she needs to understand. This is her home now and no amount of crying will change that.

This morning she got all ready, standing on the porch with her bags, looking expectantly out at the dirt road that winds its way towards our house. I wanted to tell her not to wait, that if she waited for someone to come that she’d be waiting forever, but Mama said I couldn’t. Mama said the waiting is part of the process. Her hope must be broken before we can fix her.

Around lunchtime Sandra came in, still holding her bags. She said, “When is Mama’s friend coming to pick me up? I thought it was this morning.”

I shrugged and tried not to look at her face.

Mama’s friend in town only drops them off. She doesn’t pick them up. We all know this by now.

Sandra waited on the porch until it got dark. When she came into the living room I saw that she was pale.

“Where the fuck is the driver?” she said, and Gloria covered her ears.

Mama said, “We do not speak that way in this family.”

“I’m done with this hippie-dippie-bullshit,” Sandra said. Gloria stood up and shooed Carolyn and Marceline into the kitchen, away from Sandra’s impure words. “I’m out in the middle of nowhere and I need a ride. If your friend’s not coming, call me a cab.”

I was getting scared. Sometimes they are angry but Sandra was madder than I’d ever seen.

“Do you really want to go back to that?” Mama asked her gently. “To the city where you breathe in more poison than air? To the constant assault of ‘buy this, buy that’? To the husband who sleeps around and blames you for your anger towards him?”

“You don’t get to talk about my husband,” Sandra said, and I knew then that Mama had touched a nerve.

“Things are pure here,” Mama said, moving closer to her. “Things are simple. Everywhere else, you can barely hear yourself think. But here… we will hear Him calling us home as clear as a bell, and we will hear Him soon.”

“I’m leaving,” Sandra said.

Mama looked at Jacob. Jacob nodded and went towards Sandra. Before she could think to bolt he had his arms around her tight, lifting Sandra off her feet. She kicked and screamed but Jacob is very strong from cutting wood and he got her into my bedroom closet with not much effort at all.

When Mama saw that I was crying she pulled me to her chest, stroking my hair. She reminded me that salvation is often met with defiance.

I told her I understood but it was so hard to listen to Sandra screaming in there.


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