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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There, but for the grace of God, go I....

This Friday at 5:00 p.m., I will shut down my computer, I will clear my desk, turn off my heater, shut off the lights in my office and head to the elevator that will shuttle me to the first floor of the County Courthouse.

When I leave the courthouse I will climb in my car and head to my home so that I can see my beautiful, healthy, happy, safe children.  I will enter with an exhausted smile on my face to my youngest laying on the couch playing Angry Birds or Temple Run on the iPod.  I will drop my things, slowly begin to strip in order to feel more comfortable within the confines of my own "four" walls as I give both of my children big hugs. 

Once I have greeted my children we will migrate to the kitchen where they will tell me about their day and their wishes for potential weekend adventures and I will begin cooking dinner.  Once dinner is finished we will eat and talk and then settle in front of the television to watch a movie or curl up on the couches to read books.  After a few hours we will each retire to our own bedrooms, climb into our comfortable beds and proceed to engage in whatever our respective pre-bedtime activities are until we each fall asleep. 

Throughout the night there may be the occasional half-asleep trip to the bathroom or trip for a glass of water from the fridge, but with the exception of the hum from the air conditioning unit and the fans our home will be silent.

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This Friday at 5:00 p.m., Ms. R will walk into the County jail.  She will be there to turn herself in after having a week to make arrangements for the care of her children as she serves time for a crime she committed under the direction of the man that has been beating her for the last five years of her life.

When Mr. S is released from jail this weekend he will walk home and find that there is an eviction notice on the door.  Although he has not purposefully failed to make his rental payments on time, once his landlord found out Mr. S was in jail she was in no mood to "work with him" and figured the four walls that were currently housing him MUST be where he belonged.  The police wouldn't pick him up for no reason, right?

As Ms. T walks into her home she will do so with a forced smile, although she works as hard as she can her children are hungry, their utilities are overdue and her home is about to be taken away.  She will do her best to place dinner on the table, and in order for her children to have as much as possible, she will go to bed hungry tonight.

Throughout the night, Ms. R will jump each time she hears a yell, a cry the bang of door or the stomp of a foot.  She has lived the last five years in fear and she will spend the next 6 months in escalated anxiety.

Throughout the night, Mr. S will scratch scars into his legs as the mosquitoes eat him up because he is sleeping in the woods underneath a billboard off the side of the interstate.

Throughout the night, Ms. T will try to get rest, while failing to get sleep.  Her hungry body will keep her awake, her mind will race with ideas, both legal and illegal, on how to provide more for her children.

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I know that I am not where I am today because of anything I have done or failed to do.  I know that as John Bradford once stated, there, but for the grace of God, go I.  One wrong choice in boyfriends and an unknown number of years from my life could have been colored with beatings, sexual assault and forced engagement in criminal activities.  Being caught one time for any of the number of stupid things I chalked up to "just being a kid", "just being a teenager" or "just being a college student" could have landlords throwing me out at the first sign of trouble.  Or worse, refusing to rent to me at all.  ONE mistake, ONE person not caring, ONE missing children's program in my neighborhood, ONE less teacher that didn't care and I could be inmate #35687R24.  I don't pretend to be a big and glamorous lawyer, there really is nothing big or glamorous about anything that I do.  But I have always believed that the best singers make the ugliest faces when they are giving all they have to give in that moment.  The most creative artists rise from their creation covered in paint and chalk and dirt.  The most focused writers finally shake themselves out of their 3-day writing binge with their hair all over their head and stubble on their chin.  When you give all you have, to all that you do, it is not pretty.  I would like to believe that's what I do; I give all I have to what I am doing right now because...well...there but for the Grace of God go I....and you.


Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT