The Lost Boy

Just like clockwork, there was a familiar enthusiastic knock on the front door. Nearly every morning, Jaylen the eight-year-old boy from next door would rap on the door looking for food, something to do or…well, really anything. “It’s Jaylen again,” Lindsey calls to her husband as she opens the door and he scurries in.

Like most boys his age, Jaylen is a bundle of energy. He’s a sweet little boy with an enormous smile and an infectious laugh. He lives with his grandparents a few acres down the hill from Lindsey’s home. But he’s rarely there. He leaves the house in the morning, plays on the farm, gets lost in the woods, and hangs out at the neighbor’s house. One time he stole a tractor and took it for a joy ride. The rapidly aging couple do the best they can, but it’s not enough. Jaylen’s shoes are worn out, his clothes are too small, and he’s dirty.

And there’s more.

Jaylen doesn’t go to school. He can’t read or write. His mother is addicted to drugs. She gets food stamps she only occasionally shares, and she lies to the state about him being home schooled. She’s so messed up; she can’t handle having him. One Sunday last May, Lindsey found him sitting on the porch. He had been crying. In his hands she found a Mother’s Day card he drew for his Mom. But she wasn’t coming today.

And there’s more.

Jaylen’s mother was molested in a drug house when she was fourteen. She got pregnant. That’s how he came to be. The father? No one even knows his name. He could be dead or strung out somewhere. Last year, Lindsey asked Jaylen what he’d like for Christmas. He thought for a moment and replied, “A dad.”

Normally when I write, I tell a story. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Not this time. I just want you to know that Jaylen exists. He came into this world through violence. The odds are so clearly against him.

Lindsey has notified the proper agencies about Jaylen. When she can get him to sit still, she’s trying to teach him to read. She has an army of people standing by ready to help with clothes and money, but it’s complicated. The grandparents are proud people. They don’t want charity and Jaylen’s mother steals all she can to feed her addiction. Still, there is hope.

Thanksgiving is here. Tonight, I’m leaning back in my comfortable chair in my warm, beautiful home and I’m praying for Jaylen. I’m praying for his mother. Will you join me? I guess it’s not my story to fully tell is it? It’s his. There will be a beginning, a middle, and an end.

And what an incredible story it will be.