During the holidays, we all try to love more, to give more of ourselves.
This holiday season we want to share with you a Christmas story that took place 33 years ago…about a mother…her daughter…and this place of hope you and I call Covenant House.
May these words inspire you this Christmas, and remind you of the beautiful difference friends like you make in so many lives.
“It was a December afternoon in 1990,” the story begins, “when out of the blue…there’s a sudden outburst, and my daughter comes dashing down the stairs and out the door with her baby in her arms. With the heaviest heart, a few long days and nights passed; I could wait no longer. It was the day before Christmas and I went to where I learned they were staying. My daughter’s darkness had not yet lifted. My tears spilled on my little granddaughter as I held her on my lap. Then, my heart still heavy, I left for home, alone. A few short hours passed when my daughter and her little one came in the door. But our home, for whatever reason at this time, did not feel like home for my daughter.
“Find us a shelter,” she said to me, tears running down her cheeks.
I was at a loss as to what to do. I called the New York Foundling and was told-- “Take them both to Covenant House.” So right away, I did. I told the woman who opened the door that my daughter and her baby needed a place to stay. Crying, I said I was afraid she might hurt herself. “Please, take care of them.”
And there, that Christmas Eve, she took them in…no questions asked. I left for home, alone in my thoughts and fears, trusting that, at least, they would be safe that night. On Christmas morning, I took the subway back to Covenant House. My daughter’s spirit had lifted somewhat. She smiled when she saw me. It eased my heavy heart and gave me hope.
In the days and weeks that followed, my daughter and granddaughter were moved from short-term housing to Covenant House’s longer-term Mother and Child program. Time passed, and one day I received a call from my daughter. She said to expect a call from one of the workers at Covenant House to come to a meeting.
At the meeting, I supported my young adult daughter in her need to remain there. And then one day, I got another call, and I heard the words I longed to hear.
“Can we come home?” She was ready. I had been waiting. And that night, they came home. It felt so good to me…our little family was once again together under the roof of our home.
It was not too long afterward that my daughter’s erratic early history, deemed by professionals as “just issues she needs to work out” came to be diagnosed as a major mood disorder: Bipolar illness with episodes of severe depression.
As I look back, 33 years later, I remember that Christmas Eve back in 1990; Covenant House was for my daughter, a new beginning…one of many.
For Covenant House and for the many graces throughout the many years, I am and will be forever thankful.
This mother’s poem, dedicated to her daughter, was written back that December, 1990.
My heart cries out in anguish.
This Christmas, 1990, nears,
(Thinking of the Mother
for her Babe in Bethlehem)
I take my little girl
And her little girl
To find a place to stay.
In this dark and rainy night
We take a cab to 41st Street.
Fleeing the death of hopelessness,
Hoping to find a shelter
For this mother and her baby.
My heart cries out in anguish.
All I know how to give, I have given.
My love leaves her alone,
Feeling without hope and homeless.
Heaven, help my little girl
And her baby.
Let this shelter shelter her
Beyond the darkness and the rain,
With a new beginning.
Heaven, give her hope.
Heaven, help her find herself,
And of great value.
- December, 1990
Remembering December 24, 1990, this is written for my daughter. Looking back to this night, in retrospect I can see that each time of seeming such despair has had inside of it the seed of hope and a new beginning. – ADK
Shelter Is Only the Beginning
From crisis to care: Find out what it's like when a young person enters our doors.