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aloneI was driving to work very early this morning, leaving my neighborhood, when I heard what can only be described as a child’s soft voice, saying help.  I tend to have my window open in the mornings, despite the cold, because I am a smoker.  I drive rather carefully because in my neighborhood, while there are lights, they don’t get the full street covered and I am always worried about hitting someone.  But I always have my music on, and am usually listening to it.

But this morning, as I was turning at the “intersection” to leave my neighborhood, I could swear I heard, “help”.  I immediately slowed down, even further, and looked around.  I couldn’t see anyone, even in the shadows, and I didn’t hear any more voices.  Of course, by the time I realized I needed to slow down, I had turned completely into the intersection. And my music was playing.

But it is a voice I hear even now, four and half hours later.  I hear that “help”.  I am sitting here questioning my every move, especially those seconds when I looked back.  Did I hear the voice? Was it just something from the music?  And what happens if I find out that there was a voice, and I like everyone else just passed it on by? And what if the child was in the shadows watching me pass on by?  What if…

I could probably run through what ifs for days; my imagination tends to lead me straight into trouble.  I don’t tend to listen to my imagination, I tend to only listen to my gut.  My gut says that even if it was something, I will never know.  My gut says that it doesn’t know if the voice was really there, but I will never know.  My intellect says that I can’t drive forty-five minutes home on my lunch hour to find a clue to a mystery that may not exist; and my gut agrees.

But still that damn voice haunts me.

I am not good at saving myself.  I am not good at working on me; I tend to ignore myself as much as possible.  Not because I am always lazy, although I can be, but more because there are a lot of times I simply don’t want the truth.  I don’t want to remember those stones that I must carry wherever I go, in a burlap sack, bumping into my knees and causing me to constantly lose my balance.  I don’t want to feel the chaffing from the sack rubbing on my shoulders already burdened with weight. I don’t want to think about those moments where my innocence was chipped away slowly, completely until I am this current person that can neither truly live nor truly die.

There have been voices that have haunted me in the past.  Voices of fear, voices of pleading, voices of loss.  I have heard them for years.  I even sit here wondering if the voice I heard this morning, isn’t just another in the chorus of voices that I know intimately.

But what if it wasn’t.  There is one aspect in my life that keeps me going. My desire, my need, my very dependence, is to help.  I have to help those who need it and those that want it.  I have to give compassion, a listening ear, and helping hand no matter who the one in need is.  If it is a child, an elderly lady, a father, or a mother, there is an absolute need in me to help.  Not for their sake, but honestly, for my own. I can’t help myself, I can’t change my past or who I am, but I can help those I know and those I have never met.

And I don’t care what kind of help it is.  You need advice, ask (I will try).  You need a hug, ask (I hate being touched, but I do it on the pretense of helping).  You need an extra set of hands, feet, voice, presence, ask (I truly, don’t mind – although my therapist wishes I could learn to say no more).  I am selfish, I need to help in order to settle my own demons.  It is as simple as that.

So if that voice is real and I didn’t listen, it will haunt me.  If I never find out if that simple word was real, it will haunt me. It will haunt me because it is a chance I left.  It will haunt me because it is a chance I ignored.  It will haunt me because when cries in the night are heard, one should always, always respond. Immediately, instinctively, completely.

May God hear my voice in the middle of the morning…please don’t let that have been a child. Please don’t let that have been a voice in the night.  Please don’t let that voice have remained unheard.  Please always let the cries be heard.