I rushed to get my children to bed tonight, lingering to give a few extra kisses, but my mind on coming downstairs to get a few projects done. I hadn’t even found time to write in the past 3 weeks or so. It had been one thing after another with illness, then a family change and finally, the busy hum of everyday activities. Life has been busy lately, and I’ve been struggling to find time and the ability to prioritize everything I want. Needs, ever coming before wants have taken center stage as I reconfigure the new and different. But then, something like this story makes me stop and wonder if I’m hurrying everything a little too much or too fast.

Mercedes sat outside in the cold, overnight. I can’t seem to get the image of a sweet little girl, knocking and pulling frantically at the door outside her home for someone, anyone- just to let in her in out of the cold. You see, Mercedes was the little girl who died outside her apartment building because in the safety and security of locked doors, she just couldn’t get in. The Star Tribune’s article, states that Mercedes even died, in the view of her mother’s bedroom window. I can’t imagine the confusion and fear of that little face, as she looked up hoping that someone would see her and let her in.

The human element of it all tells me that the anger I feel is responsibility and the want to place blame on someone. But the blame to me, seems more widespread here. How could no one have seen Mercedes outside? Had we become so busy and important in our lives that we’ve failed to notice something?

Rachel Stacey Downer was dropping Mercedes off that evening, and sped away before seeing if the little girl got in safely. Mercedes was so young to just be left off at the door. Some outlets are reporting that Rachel changed her mind and decided to drop off Mercedes in a hurry, without telling her mother. KSTP has an interview with Rachel and it’s a heartbreaking watch.

It’s easy to say that we’d all watch out for a little girl. But sometimes, we’re in a hurry to get to or from, or even downstairs to do a few projects. It’s been a rough winter up north and my mind wandered, thinking how many people had died outside this year, alone in the cold? Though not figuratively, we’ve now left major parts of rural, Minnesota stranded as another five mental health clinics closed this morning, due to budget cuts. Will we simply ignore what’s going on? Surely this is something we can control.

Tonight, I donated to MHAM, the Mental Health Association of Minnesota. With more rural clinics closing and individuals who desperately need care, if our State and Nation continues to cut funding where it’s needed, I know I can step up and help. For Mercedes and her family, who likely have a long road ahead of them in healing and forgiveness, I’m stopping and taking a moment. I hope someone would do the same for my daughter.