In Never Been Born, the reader learns of the positive impact Mattie’s life had on others. Bart reveals some of the ways lives would have been altered had Gina chosen to end her pregnancy. Details omitted from the book about specific characters:
Belle – the elderly woman Gina visits with baby Mattie.
Gina returned home from work exhausted. Rain had started unexpectedly in the morning, which had set the tone for the rest of the day, one of pure chaos. She slumped in a chair and flicked on the TV needing something to calm her frayed nerves. Her cell phone in the kitchen wailed. “One more thing,” Gina muttered to herself. “Hello,” she answered wearily.
“Hi, Gina, it’s Mom,” replied a cheerful voice. “How was your day?”
“Mom, can I call you later? I just walked in the door and I’m exhausted from the commute. School was crazy as well.”
“Sure, honey. It’s nothing important. I just wanted to tell you about Belle. She’s not doing well. I think she has given up all desire to live. I suppose I can’t blame her, as it’s not much of a life sitting alone day after day hoping that someone will stop by to add a little variety.”
“I know, Mom. When I can find some time I will go by for a short visit.”
“Love you, honey. Get some rest.”
The days were more of the same – long commutes, meetings at school, testy kids. Gina really had planned to stop by to see Belle. Time just got away from her. Turning the knob of her front door, Gina heard her cell phone ringing from within her purse.
“Hello,” she said hurriedly.
“Hi, Honey,” said her mom. “I wanted to let you know that Belle was found dead this morning by her cleaning lady. She must have passed during the night. Funeral arrangements are still being made. I’ll let you know when I hear something.”
“Ok,” Gina said quietly as she hung up the phone. A silent tear rolled down her check as she reflected on the elderly woman who had been such a part of her life while she was growing up. What had happened to her or to the life she had once envisioned?
Author’s comment: While the visits Gina made to Belle may have seemed insignificant to Gina, to Belle they were the highlight of each week. Never discount the small deeds done for another, as one never knows the weight those acts carry in their eyes.
Russell - Russell is the autistic boy Mattie befriends at school. Gina recalls this story while dreaming, so she is uncertain whether it actually occurred or whether reading Mattie’s journal elicited the thought.
Russell dreaded going to school. It seemed that each day was a repeat of the day before with teasing, being left out of sports or games at recess. While the school counselor listened and encouraged Russell, it didn’t lessen the pain or the knowledge that he was different.
The bell rang and all the kids streamed out of the building for morning recess. As usual, Russell wandered out by himself. He sat down to eat a package of Doritos as his morning snack when another boy, Carter, snatched it away from him.
“Hey, give it back,” Russell demanded.
“What you gonna do about it. Russell?” he asked, slurring his speech. “Come on. You come and get it.”
Russell grabbed for the bag, but Carter pulled it away. With one final motion, Carter stepped on the bag grinding the Doritos into crumbs. “Here you go, Russ,” said the other boy, offering the tattered package back to him.
Tears welled up in Russell’s eyes as he ran off. He headed to the back of the playground and tried to hide behind some trees. Twenty minutes later Mrs. Enfield, the school counselor, came looking for him. “Russell, come on. Let’s talk about things,” she coaxed.
“I’m never coming out. I want to go home.”
That was the beginning of a decline for Russell, as he became more withdrawn and retreated into a world of his own where life was kinder.
Author’s comment: Many students struggle at school with forming friendships if they are a bit different from others. Feelings of loneliness or isolation are common, as well as bullies picking on them. What joy to know they have a true friend, like Mattie, whose “got your back.”
Jason – Mattie’s friend. The boys find Jason’s mom slumped over in her home.
Jason walked up to the front door. He dreaded opening it to what he might find. His life had been a hard one with his parents divorcing while he was young. He mom often mixed alcohol and pain medication. At the young age of 14, it was he who was the parent.
Jason opened the door. “Mom,” he called out. There was no answer. In the dark he could make out a figure slumped over. He rushed to his mom’s side.
“Mom, mom, wake up,” he demanded. The lifeless figure lay there. He reached for his mom’s wrist, but didn’t feel a pulse.
“Mom!” he screamed. “I need you to wake up!” Nothing. He picked up the phone and dialed 911. By the time the paramedics arrived, it was too late.
“ I’m sorry, son,” said one of them. “Where’s your dad?”
“I don’t have a dad. It’s just me and Mom.”
“Is there someone you can call?”
“ Um, yeah. Let me think.”
Jason didn’t know whom to call. The rest of the family had abandoned them long ago. “There’s my Uncle Pete,” he replied with some hesitancy. When he had last seen Uncle Pete, he couldn’t remember.
Mrs. Olson didn’t make it. Jason sat in the waiting room when the doctor approached him with the news. His Uncle Pete still had not arrived. What was going to happen to Jason? No mom, no real family. The emptiness engulfed him in a fear and desperation he had not known before.
“What am I going to do?” he cried out loud.
Author’s comment: Whether it was the prayers offered by Gina, Mattie, and Jason that pulled Mrs. Olson through her overdose, one will never know. In this situation, prayer was their first choice rather than a last resort. Let it be yours as well when faced with challenges.