By Sharon Bryant
She was three-years-old the day I met her. I looked into the saddest eyes I've ever seen on a little girl. Beautiful long blond hair cascaded down her back and feathered her cheeks. I noticed a large scar down one side of her face, but never mentioned it. I looked up at her mother and saw another pair of sad eyes.
I couldn't figure out what could have happened for a child so young to look so sad, or for a mother, who carried the same look.
I got on my knees and got close to eye level with the little girl. "How would you like a bag of cotton candy?" I asked. She didn't look at me for a moment. I said, "I'll give you one if you tell me you like cotton candy." It was then she looked into my eyes. The little blond head slowly nodded yes.
I looked up to her mom and asked, "Is it OK with you?" I saw tears sliding down her cheeks as she nodded her head yes.
I stood up and reached for a bag of cotton candy, then handed it to the little girl. Her mom kept thanking me, and I brushed it off, saying, "I have kids, too." It was then she told me the story.
"You may have read about this little blond girl just a few years ago. You may have seen the photos on television. Her name is Amy Crowder. Children's Hospital in Birmingham , Alabama dedicated their annual pamphlet to her. Amy was the last survivor of the F5 tornado that struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that year. The day I met her, she was released from Children's Hospital where she spent over three months. Her brother was killed in that horrible tornado, as well as her daddy. Amy is very conscious of the scar that's on her face."
After her mom told me who she was, I remembered reading about her in the paper and seeing the rescue team that found her barely alive.
Before Amy and her mom left my shop that day, I bent down again to Amy and said, "You are a very beautiful little girl." I handed her a stuffed animal I had on display. It was then I saw a spark in those little eyes and a hint of a smile on her small face. I handed her mom a card and told her I, too, had lost a child, and if she ever needed to talk, just to call or e-mail me.
Amy has never been in my shop since that day. I've often thought of her, her mom, and wondered how they're doing with the two losses they both had that day so many lost their lives in that terrible tornado that struck central Alabama .
Since that day, we now have a tornado shelter built into the ground. I live less than 20 miles from where Amy's brother and father died. I know these storms. I know loss. I know that there is a reason for everything, and that Amy and her mom's lives were spared was for a reason. But I'm also glad I had the opportunity to meet that little blue-eyed girl who had the saddest eyes I have ever seen.
--Sharon Bryant choklite@bellsouth.
By Sharon Bryant