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?"
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.
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.