August 1 Journal Entry
I’ve been feeling a tightness in my insides. I look at Mama and she says that she’s already eaten when she gives us our supper but she looks skinnier and skinnier to me. She says that we need to eat the canned beans and the fruit cocktail she puts on our plates so that we can grow up to be big and strong. She nibbles on a cracker or two. I believe that she’s not eating so that my brother and I can. That hurts my insides.
I overheard her talking with our friend Ber-ber the other day about how scared she was. She knows that if she can hold on until school begins in a few weeks, we will eat breakfast and lunch at school. But what is she going to do until school starts? She can barely feed us now. She wonders how she will decide who eats, which bills get paid, and how long we’ll be able to stay in this house. My insides hurt from this fear.
August 6 Journal Entry
Last night I cried and cried when I went to bed. I tried to be quiet so that Mama would not hear me but she did anyway. She asked me what was wrong. I told her that I felt so bad for her because she was working so hard and still having so many struggles to take care of us. I told her I loved her more than I could describe. At that she began crying herself. She said that she is full of grief. At first I didn’t know what she was talking about and then she said, “I grieve when I go to the store and the teenager in front of me in line buys chips, microwave meals, crackers, ice cream, sodas, and salsa and I know that I can’t afford any of those for you. I grieve when I know that your brother’s asthma would be better if I could afford healthier food for him but I can only get things that will fill your bellies. I know if we could live in a better place, my sweet little boy might not be so sick.”
Grief must mean that your heart is breaking and you can’t do anything about it. That about sums up our lives sometimes, especially when we’re hungry.
August 12 Journal Entry
When Ber-ber went to the store today, she picked up the list of the school supplies that we’ll need this year. I looked at the list and my heart just fell to my feet. There’s no way that Mama can afford all this stuff. I don’t know if I’ll even show her the list. That will just make her feel bad.
August 16 Journal Entry
Even though I hadn’t shown Mama the list of school supplies, Ber-ber asked her if she’d seen it. Mama cut her eyes over at me and said, “No, should I have?”
I hung my head and said that I must have lost it.
Ber-ber said, “Child, you’d lose your head if it wasn’t fastened to your body. But don’t you worry. I know what you will do.”
Then she looked at Mama and said, “You go right down to the agency on Center Street and sign up for school supplies. They’ll give you what you need for your kids so don’t you worry. Your children will march into school just like everybody else with everything that’s on the list.”
At that, I smiled. Then I hugged Ber-ber with the biggest hug I could and whispered, “Thank you.”
Excerpt from Angelika’s Journal, What You Can Do About Poverty and Homelessness and Poverty, www.avenidabooks.com