Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Shake It Off

Once upon a time, there was a person with a crazy week.

On Monday, she was told the state department chair had suggested her program for cuts by the legislator, which would mean 5,000+ children would lose their disability services and she would lose her job on June 30th. She left this meeting insanely angry and ready to run over the legislature with a tractor. An hour later, she started a petition, posted it on Facebook, emailed it to about 100 people, and went home from work feeling terrified and heartbroken.

On Monday night, when she fell asleep, 3,000 people had signed this petition. Hope seemed...possible. But the fears lingered underneath.

On Tuesday morning, the media called. And they kept calling. The petition kept climbing, and thousands of people added their names. Her boss didn't know whether to fire her for violating HR policies or promote her for raising hell. Media reports poured in from across the state.

On Tuesday, when she fell asleep, 10,000 people had signed this petition. She feared her boss, she feared the future. But secretly her heart was exploding to see all those names, one after the other. These children were not voiceless, and they were not alone. They had 10,000 people standing with them.

On Wednesday, supporters from around the state called. How do we organize, they asked. What do we do? How do we make our voice heard? She organized a group from across the state to attend legislative hearings and testify with their children in toe. She tried to give advice; she tried to lead. She tried not to hear the doubts. She tried to Shake the Devil Off.

On Wednesday night, she tried to fall asleep. But with 16,000 people, the firestorm was overwhelming. Were we just pawns in a legislative game? Would we be successful? Was it better to err in action or inaction? Was the awareness alone worth it?

She stood in the shower, letting the water fall across her face, down her shoulders. She remembered the first child she ever met, a foster baby aptly named Chance. Chance was born drug-addicted. Chance had lost part of his vision, and at six months old, he was unable to hold up his head or roll over. He was delayed, and it was possible no one yet knew the extent of his needs. His doctor said he would never walk. When his grandmother came forth to adopt him, she told the judge that Chance would walk. She told him she believed in miracles, and she believed in this baby. The judge almost would not give her Chance. He said she was deluded; she was not honest with herself about the severity of Chance's needs. She said, FUCK YOU, and she took that baby home. She worked with him every day. She poured her love and her strength, and she advocated for Chance to get every service, every form of help this baby could get.

So to Chance and his grandmother... I have to say thank you. Thank you for reminding me to fight. Thank you for teaching me what hope, faith, and love are. It is the little revolutions that happen every day, the moments in between that aren't widely shared, that make up miracles.

Maybe the legislature and the governor thinks that we are pawns, but in the end, we are caught up in a world that is part choice and part chance. I think I made the right decision this week. I have a feeling I may never see the results, but I hope 16,000 other people do.

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