On Saturday June 2, 2007, I was out grocery shopping with my kids. As I was walking to my car I got a text from Ruth asking me to stop by her house that afternoon. I lived 3 ½ hours away, so it wasn’t just like I could pick up and leave right then and I had already been to her house twice that week, but I knew something was different this time because my knees immediately started shaking when I read the text.
I told her that luckily my sister had to go to Salt Lake City and take her son to the airport that afternoon and I could ride out with her. I took my kids home, told Mykel the news and got ready to go meet with Ruth and her husband. It seemed like the longest drive to get there that day, and since I wasn’t driving and it wasn’t my car, I just had to follow where everyone else was going. We met one of my other sisters in Salt Lake so the cousins could visit for a while, then I finally dropped my sister and her son off at the Salt Lake Airport. I was a few hours late to meet with Ruth and her husband. By the time I got to their house Ruth had already gone to work. I asked her husband if he wanted me to come back later but he invited me in. I could see Aubrey crawling around on the floor and we went and sat on the couch to talk. A few minutes later he asked me if I could go outside to a little storage shed and talk to him.
This is where my crazy imagination started to run wild, I thought “what if he is going to take me out to the shed and kill me; no one knows where I am at…” I laughed at myself for thinking that, but I thought the request was quite odd and I remember watching Oprah once where she said to "listen to your gut when you feel strange about a situation…." Then he said “I want to talk to you outside so my brother doesn’t hear us.” That was a valid reason because I knew that he and Ruth were being kicked out of his brother’s house, so I assumed that was why he wanted to keep our conversation private. This helped shake my heebie-jeebies so I followed him outside (besides, he was carrying Aubrey, so that made me feel a little safer).
It was a VERY hot June day and the air inside the shed was scorching! As I have mentioned before, I always sweat to death when I am nervous, but now I had an excuse to actually be sweating, it was roasting inside the shed (no breeze whatsoever) and I had on a long sleeve shirt and jeans. We were both standing up to talk and he was holding Aubrey for most of the time (she was only dressed in a diaper and a onesie) and she was squirming in his arms and wanting to get down and crawl around.
We talked for well over an hour. I had so many crazy thoughts running through my head but I was trying to focus on every detail of what he was saying and pay close attention to everything he said so I could give an educated answer to his questions. At one point he mentioned that he and Ruth were thinking about placing Aubrey with us in a few months because of financial reasons and because they had no idea where they were going to live. I tried to help him with some options and offered to help them look for a place to live. We kept talking and at the end of the conversation he asked “do you want to take her home today?” I asked him what Ruth thought and he said that she already knew. I then asked him if Ruth wanted to say goodbye to her and he said that she already had. I finally answered him and said “I would love to take her home with me.”
We then went back inside the house (the air conditioning didn’t work but it was much cooler indoors!) He started packing up Aubrey’s bottles, formula and kitchen items and explaining what her schedule was. I tried to act intelligent and ask questions about her care, but mostly I just listened to what he was saying, I was still in shock. I was amazed at how organized he was about all of Aubrey’s bottles, food and her daily schedule (he had all of her bottles sanitized and gave her distilled water with her formula). He was taking extremely good care of her and I could tell she was happy and healthy.
He had some coupon vouchers for more formula, so we decided to go to the store and pick it up. We all got in the car together, he put Aubrey’s car seat in the van and we headed to the store. We walked around the grocery store; I was carrying Aubrey most of the time and I suppose to most people we just looked like a young family out grocery shopping. It is times like these that I remember not to assume or pre-judge people that I see because obviously no one could imagine the true scenario of our being together at the store that day….
By the time we got back to his house Aubrey needed to be changed. I put a new diaper on her but he didn’t offer me any new clothes, so I just put the onesie back on her. We then loaded up all of her stuff (a few diapers, formula and bottles) and he walked me out to my vehicle. He carefully buckled Aubrey in, kissed her goodbye, laid her favorite blanket on her seat and then looked at me and said “take good care of her” – I could tell his voice was cracking and he was having a hard time saying goodbye to her. My emotions were at the surface as well and I tried to hold back my tears, I promised him that I would take good care of her. He watched me back out of the driveway and leave and it was difficult to compose myself as I drove off and left him standing there alone.