It was my fruit that gave her hope. I dropped it for her that summer day on Asbury Avenue, there on the rutted sidewalk between the small houses, the ones with their driveway folding chairs and roadside recycling bins, and the four sets of apartment buildings toward the end of the road.
That’s where she would be moving, the apartment complex. I watched her turn over the wooden flower in her hand. It was smaller than her thumb, but she grinned and put it in her pocket, looking slightly more hopeful than she had been the moment before.
Slowly she stepped forward toward the apartments and the next 10 months of her life.
Neither of us knew what she would endure there. I’d watched the lives of others at that complex in both their glory and misery, relishing their cultures and grieving their hardships, but neither of us knew what lay ahead for this one yet. But that day I saw her grin, and I knew I’d created something good.
My little pinecone, I learned, was a symbol of hope to her. It was a sign that God was with her. Whatever she’d endured and whatever was to come, God was still good, and God was still there.