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Maggie wore bows in her hair.
Pink on Monday, green on Tuesday, red on Wednesday, purple on Thursday and yellow on Friday.
Because yellow was a happy color, and Friday was a happy day.
And Maggie wore dresses with socks up to her knees
With little black shoes, and Shirley Temple curls.
Because she refused to grow up, because growing up was for boring people.
And Maggie said her alphabet backwards.
She said her B’s before her A’s, and she said her twos before her ones
But if you asked her what a gerund was, she could tell you on the spot.
Or the capital of Indonesia
Or point to where Guam was located on a map, in less than fifteen seconds.
And Maggie was talked about by other girls
Because she was different, because she was unique. Because she had difficulties.
But Maggie said that they could say whatever they wanted, nothing could hurt her.
Because Maggie was a fighter.
And I always thought the Lord could make no creature more innocent
More naïve, more lovable or more fragile than Maggie.
Because Maggie was sweeter than a lollipop dipped in sugar.
And I always asked the Lord never to take Maggie away.
I’d miss my best friend, the way she’d ramble on about her dog, or her cat, or her daddy.
Because her dog and her cat and her daddy were the best things Maggie had, next to me, she said.
But they did try to take Maggie away
They asked her to say her alphabet
And Maggie said, “Z, Y, X, W…”
And they said that’s enough.
And they asked her to count to ten
And Maggie said, “10, 9, 1, 2, 3…”
And they said that’s enough.
But I told them to ask her what a gerund was.
And Maggie said, “A traditional grammatical term for a verb ending in ‘ing’”
And I asked Maggie what the capital of Indonesia was, where Guam was located, how to find mass
And she said, “Jakarta, western Pacific Ocean, density times volume”
And they looked at me. And they looked at Maggie.
But they told me she still couldn’t stay.
Because her father was a drunk and her mother was somewhere unknown. They couldn’t care for her.
And because she was almost seventeen and couldn’t say her alphabet the right way.
But I told them about Maggie’s cat and her dog, and her daddy.
I told them that she loved her cat and her dog and her daddy like she loved me.
And Maggie said, “That’s my family.”
And Maggie said, “I like to color inside the lines. I like to pretend my dolls are my best friends.
I like to drink milk out of a Disney mug. My favorite movie is ‘The Little Mermaid’ and I like cookies for breakfast. Is that bad?”
And I didn’t say anything. And neither did they.
Maggie said, “I’ve read ‘Tom Sawyer’ but I prefer ‘Goodnight, Moon.’ And I can sing my alphabet, only backwards, and I can count to ten on my fingers.”
And Maggie said, “If you take me away from my cat and my dog and my daddy and my dolls
If you take away my Disney mug or my crayons or my coloring books
And most of all, if you take me away from Tessa, I will cry”
And in that moment, I loved Maggie more than ever.
I loved her colored bows and her cartoons. I loved how she said her alphabet and how she couldn’t spell
“Mississippi” and how she colored inside the lines, always.
And I loved how she refused to grow up. And I loved how Maggie refused to give up.
I loved that Maggie was a fighter. And I didn’t care that she had mild autism.
That didn’t change a thing.
Because I loved Maggie and Maggie loved me.
And they weren’t going to take Maggie away.
Because Maggie and her dog and her cat were coming to live with me.
And maybe her daddy could visit on weekends.
Because Maggie and me were like family, and I’d never give her up.
Not as long as ZYXW went together.