I must admit this has not been my favorite week ever. In fact, on some levels, this week has sucked eggs.
So, as the night closes itself around my Brookside home, I try to reorient my view so as to redeem these waning days of April. A few sparks of good fortune shine among the disappointments: My newest endeavor, the Waldo-Brookside Rotary Club, got its provisional charter with more charter members than any club in the District; a long-lost client happened to get off a city bus right in front of my car; I found something suitable to wear to Caitlin Taggart’s wedding.
And nestled right among the immediate, modest positives I place a long-term note of gratitude: That I was a single mother at 35 rather than at 15. As I sat in an emergency meeting of lawyers, caseworkers and care providers analyzing the sudden downhill turn of a young client’s progress towards reunification with her child, sisters, and mother, I could not help thanking the Universe for that good fortune.
Her plight is only partly of her doing. She’s in care because the home provided by her mother for her and her sisters had no electricity or running water. She and her now nearly two-year old son live with one cousin; her much younger sisters live with another. And she keeps running away, so she is now assigned to a residential facility some distance from the city. I’ve gone out there once there so far. We sat on an old couch in an entry way to her building and tears rolled down her face. “Miss Corinne,” she whispered, “you’re the first person to come see me, and you’re not even family.”
A parent aide has now taken her child and sisters to visit, and the cousin who has her son claims she will bring him out for a second visit soon. I’ve thrown my 111 pounds around as much as I can, speaking tersely, playing bad-cop to the baby’s lawyer’s good cop, trying to force issues that seem to have stagnated over the last few months. Time will tell whether the promises made at yesterday’s tense meeting will be kept.
This evening, I took a field trip to T. J. Maxx and found a few things to bring when I go to her school tomorrow. And that provided another moment of gratitude. I started chatting with a woman in the shoe aisle and we discovered common ground. She identified herself as a social worker in KC KS. We talked about my client and some similar cases that she’s seen. She told me where she worked, and I know her executive director. We commiserated about the difficulties we each have experienced trying to help teenagers and their families. She surveyed the items that I had selected for my little lady, and she approved them. I left the store feeling more positive than I have felt all week. I drove home and unpacked my purchases. I tucked each one into a gift bag and reflected on the warmth of the woman whom I had met. What are the odds of such a moment of companionship between strangers?
Life can be challenging; and I know that some of the blacker moments of this week will rise to haunt me in the days to come. But my life has many blessings, so I’m not complaining.