Monday, November 2, 2009
You are going about your daily life, with all your dreams and hopes and plans, and you walk into your home and go about your business. But then something starts to feel wrong, and you can't quite figure out what it is, so you go about your business but with an impending sense of dread, and finally you realize what's happened: you've been robbed! First there is the pure surprise, followed by some mixture of disbelief and anger and grief, depending on what it was that was taken and what its value might have been. And then you call the authorities and report it. If you're lucky, the culprit is caught and your posessions returned and justice served.
But what happens when it's not material posessions that are stolen? What if the theft involves those very dreams and hopes and plans that were part of your daily life yesterday and are gone today?
I know women who have been robbed of their lives through cancer and women who have been robbed of their security through abuse and women who have been robbed of their self-esteem through, well, all kinds of society's flailings. These women had also been going about their daily lives when one day the bottom fell out. And then there are the moms.
Almost every mom I know once had a plan to watch her baby walk his first steps and bat his first baseball and learn how to swim and go on school field trips and go to school dances and graduate from high school to go on to college and have a job and maybe even get married and have a family. Whether deliberately or subconsciously she prepared for those events when she picked up his dirty socks and packed his lunches and reminded him, by text of course, of his orthodontist appointment. She went about her daily life organizing those plans and hopes and dreams the same way she stacked the clean dishes in one cabinet, separated the spoons from the forks in the silverware drawer, and filed pictures in photo albums and scrapbooks.
But some moms are robbed. It's not just that some things don't go according to plan. It's that things go terribly awry: the proverbial train wreck. Her train, and her child's train, are derailed. There's horrible damage, and much pain and injury, and, in the chaos and looting that follow, her plans and hopes and dreams are stolen as onlookers turn away .
At first she doesn't even know what happened, but as things become clearer and she senses the loss she also knows it won't be forever. She's always been able to kiss the knee and make it all better, so things will get better this time too. Right? After all, everyone else seems fine, their plans still intact. Her pain will heal, her losses resolve. She clings to hope.
But things don't improve and one day the hope is shaken by anger..the anger that reminds her how she spent years preparing for a day that may now never happen. The hope wobbles ever more, but she still clings to it until finally grief settles in. Grief for her child and eventually grief for herself. Grief for the hopes and plans and dreams that she cannot seem to forget. And grief for no longer belonging to the club of families on track.
And then one day she finally realizes what has happened. A crime has been committed: she and her child have been robbed. Their foundation has been broken and their futures stolen away. And it is a horrifying discovery for her because, in this crime, there are no authorities to call. No report to be filed. No culprit to imprison because this culprit is an elusive one; it might look like death or disease, depression or defiance. It snuck into her life like a slippery shadow and has by now moved on with destruction in its wake. It may not even have a name, and it most certainly can't be caught. This is a theft with no justice and a thief that cannot be contained by any one jurisdiction.
It' a crime that happens far too often in a society too blind to see it coming, too busy to stop it from happening, and too self-absorbed to really care.