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I saw them as I glanced at Leticia, gathering her books for school. They were her fingernails — not the bright acrylic ones I had given to her for Christmas, but her bare nails.

“What happened to the acrylic nails?” I asked her.

“I didn’t like them,” she replied with hollow dissonance. I knew in an instant that her story was not true. Her mother didn’t want them because they represented me.

I am losing my family you see, the aching sadness of a failed partnership. It happens all the time. I saw it last week in the crowded conference room at the Humboldt County courthouse. It was filled with people crossing the same barrier, filling out the paperwork that will dissolve a marriage — the one thing in life I had always wanted.

Their stories were far more complicated than mine.  One man wanted to know about child support for an unborn baby.

“Of course you are responsible for it,” said the patient paralegal.

“What if it is not my baby?” asked the man. I audibly groaned. In the perfect world, I would pay his legal fees and bring the baby home, sight unseen. At least someone in that house would have a fighting chance.

Then, I turned my attention to something over which I have control, a television project for my loving boss, Nazy Javid. She is the anchor/news director with the exploding energy of a downed power line.

She endorsed my project about women needing self-esteem, the very underpinning of my reason for bringing my ladies up from the Caribbean. No, I couldn’t replicate those tropical breezes or emulate merengue dancers. But I could — and still can — love with all my heart. That is not going to waste nor is it for sale.

That self-esteem project took me to the Eureka Rescue Mission, where dozens of women and their children have hit a washout in their road to re-claimed personhood.

I had a plan. It involved an old cosmetologist-friend Debbie Lasko and my new friend, Kristen Freeman.  She directs the women’s shelter.

My goal is to help women by providing the self-esteem that comes with cosmetics, the outer adornment of inner beauty. Debbie will teach the women how to use makeup as they prepare for new jobs and new lives.

I am still working on acquiring the cosmetics themselves. If it sounds similar to my campaign for kids’ baseball equipment, it is. A good idea like a good play is often the regeneration of an old one, a Shakespeare story in a different setting.

I videotaped prospective clients for the makeover. I was careful to show only their hands and feet to protect their anonymous dignity.

From across the room, I saw a woman in a wheelchair who said she didn’t mind posing for my video. “Choose whichever foot you want,” I joked.

“I’ve only got one,” she laughed.

“Oh boy, I really stepped in it,” I responded, realizing I had stumbled over my own blunder.

She laughed until she cried and said that through a relative, she would have a new prosthesis. She would walk again. I wrapped my arms around her.

In that moment, I saw life in loving clarity. I finally had a new place to put my passion. You can divorce from “love” and try to dissolve it. But, true love never dies — not the love I know.

Dave Silverbrand’s columns and other writings are available on his website, www.davespeople.com.


 

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