14 April 2010

No Answer

I'm not sure that anyone comes here to read anymore since I rarely come here to write.

It's a time thing.

But that is not what this post is about. I need to write this post so that I can get up in the morning and go do what I need to do. I need to write this post so I can quit crying and pull it together and remind myself why every little action matters.

If you're reading here, you know my clients; you know my work.

This is the story of S. She's 21. She grew up in your classic abusive home. She got pregnant young; she has a four year old boy that she loves more than life. They live together in their temporary housing at a local shelter.

Absorb that, as you settle into your bed, or your chair, or read this from your laptop or computer; if you can do that, then perhaps you can begin to feel what I'm feeling.

With virtually no supports, she attained her C.N.A. Within a week of working with me, she got a job offer from one of the top hospitals in our state. Today was her first day. She had to be to work at 7:00 this morning.

At 6:30 tonight, while I was with a different client helping her select clothes for her first day of work this weekend, S called twice and then left a voice message. Do you understand when I say that I was afraid to listen to it?

"Hi, Jenn, it's S. Today didn't go good. It didn't go good at all....it was awful. Can you call me?"

My heart sank and I anxiously waited for her to pick up the phone.

She explained that she'd left her house at 5:45 with her son, driven him to a friend's home who said she would put him on his bus at 8:00 so he could get to his pre-school. Her friend didn't answer the door or her phone. Her friend also didn't respond when S. began knocking on her windows.

So she began calling the few people she could call:

The father of the child. No answer.

A different friend. No answer.

A cousin. No answer.

Her child, tugging on her coat, "Momma, what's going on? Why you crying? Momma?"

No answer.

This woman, this girl, her child--all of her hopes, sitting in a driveway at 6:00 in the morning, just waiting for one person in her life to come through for her. Just one.

They didn't.

She called her supervisor, told him what was happening, and got her son on the bus, then reported to work, very late.

They let her stay.

Tonight, she was panicking, crying, rambling, "This is my dream job. This is my whole life. And I feel like I don't deserve it, you know? I feel like when any little thing starts to go good, I have this awful luck and it just falls apart. I don't think I can do this anymore."

I wanted to tell her so many things, but I couldn't. I told her this was temporary; that we'd coordinate help and if she could just get through this week, by next week, she'd be all set. She began to calm down. Then, a whisper, "But tomorrow? How do I get through tomorrow?"

I told her if she couldn't find anyone, I would be at the shelter at 6:30 and I would put her child on his bus and then we'd figure out a plan from there.

About one minute later, the client I was with came out of the dressing rooms, beaming, talking excitedly about work. Her mother met her there to take her to a celebratory dinner at the mall.

I hugged her hard and wished her the best and didn't make it to the car before the tears began to fall.

I had 17 voice mails today. S was just one of them. She was also the only one that I had time to return before 8:00 tonight.

And I'm laying here, exhausted in so many ways, thinking of S.; about her day, about her life, about those hours of panic this morning, about the challenges that she's faced already and how she's overcome so much and about how hope looks so different and sounds so different to all of us.

I made a choice today between the responses churning in my head; between the thought that ultimately, it's not my problem; that I've done my job and helped her out and then the thought of a young mother, her head on a steering wheel, sobbing in the dark, wondering where she would find help and how she'd get through this.

And when that young mother picked up her chin, wiped away her tears and checked her make-up in the mirror, her eyes were mine.

And that is why I do what I do.

And that is why I am going to change the world.

And that is why I am still lying here, weeping, waiting for an answer.


Jonas said...

And I'm still here, hair shirt and all, loving you for all that you do.

Just sayin'

angie and the boys said...

I don't remember when I found your blog, but you've been on my reader for a long time. Every time you write I feel like you're a dear old friend that I'm really proud of. You are really a gifted writer, and I feel your heart in your words.

Omaha Mama said...

Amazing. You are changing the world. For that mom. You get her through one day, and she'll get up on her feet. And have you to thank. So glad you posted. I still come to read.

slouchy said...

oh my god. how awful.

you are something special.

Any name said...

I am here too. I love your words and your heart. There have been many times that I just needed ! person to come through for me and I will be forever grateful. Kepp doin' what you do, but please, make sure you take care of you too.

Jennifer said...

I'll always be waiting for you to pop up on my google reader. Your stories inspire me to do better and to also change the world. You are amazing. This story has me crying at my desk while my students are gone to PE. Thanks for sharing it.

Amy Y said...

Still reading and thinking of S today, too. You are most definitely her angel.

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

You are in my reader and I am here. And will continue to be here. It takes a special person to do what you do and I believe you WILL change the world. You already changed S's world. Really.

luckyzmom said...

I am always excited when I see you have posted. You are amazing and I love you.

Anonymous said...

K2 has left a new comment on your post "No Answer":

Yep...I'm still here too and crying withthe gang. My work buddy thinks it's my change but it's your change - the change you're making in the world, for S and so many others. Really really. I'll be here as long as google reader keeps sending me your words. Please keep up the good work! BE the change you want to se in the world.

Jennifer Lynn: Pay Attention said...

K2--I don't know who you are? Are you someone that has been in her house and seen the framed picture on the wall that says "we must be the change we want to see in the world?"

Jennifer, ONE PERSON did come through for her. YOU.

Someone that I love so much once sent me a message that said "never grow a wishbone daughter where your backbone ought to be." You know her Jennifer, you see her bright green eyes each time you look in the mirror. The thing is that you make wishes happen for so many people....please don't forget that. They won't, I won't.

You make me want to be better Jenn. You are the only reason that a month ago I stopped and gave someone begging $10 and looked him in the eyes, when before I would have shrugged him off and thought awful things, I should have told you that I guess.

I hope that is the answer you were waiting for.

Never That Easy said...

I'm still here.

And you were there. Right when she needed you. I hope that helps you get to sleep tonight. It should.

kel[E] said...

You're amazing Jenn. Truly. Inspirational. and I know you don't intend to be, I know that isn't the purpose of your post. I know how it feels to need to put these things out there. to have them crammed in your head until your head can't take it anymore and you need to let them flow.
You are making a difference in this world, you are their Angel. I hope to be able to make 1/2 the difference you're making in the world someday. I love you. :)

Sarahviz said...

You are amazing and I am in awe of what you do in this world. For this world.

bgirl said...

heart sinking as i read this in my cozy home with my little boy. realizing despite what isn't ideal in my life, how so lucky i am. thank you for the perspective.

you are a gift to so many.

luckyzmom said...

I wish I had said what everyone else has said. You are wonderful and I love you.