Mea culpa. The Lily Briscoe in me wants to know: What does it mean? I will be doing my part to add to global warming in a few days when I board a plane which will take me away from Florida and back to my beloved in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln. I will leave a part of me here (besides what's now working its way through the septic system) like a time capsule waiting to be opened at the appropriate time.
Our daughter has many admirable qualities, not the least of which is her empathy for the unloved ones or misfits she meets in this world. She is now 26 years old and has maintained contact with one such boy she has known since high school in Kentucky. His name is Michael. Consider, for a moment the meaning of that name. He has a long, social-services history of being passed from one relative to "friend of the family" and from "friend" to state mental facility in the hopes that he might someday find a purpose in life and be able to make himself useful to society. His profound speech impediment makes it difficult to understand what he says. It is unlikely that he will ever find gainful employment or live a "normal" life as most of us would understand that term. Sarah has a connection with Michael--they met in a high school art class--and she is probably the only true friend he has left in this world. Not too many people would give him the time of day, let alone care what happens to him, given the kind of "life" he has lived and the things he has done--or not done, like earn a living, marry, or raise a family. She just found out last week that the home of the family he was living with burned down under mysterious circumstances. The lady who took him in was the niece of a man he lived with for several years, whose house also burned down. Michael's life reveals a puzzling pattern which will probably never be solved, no matter how many social workers or psychologists get involved in trying to solve it. Why? He does not communicate very well, and even if he did, his tale would surely implicate the social service system as an accessory to the many, varied abuses he has endured for most of his life.
Sarah is approaching a major crossroads in her life right now. She loves being a massage therapist, but, the economy being what it is right now, her business has slowed to a snail's pace. I convinced her to take a couple of classes this semester, one of them an introductory social work class. I thought that career would fit her personality like a glove. Now, I am not so sure. How would someone so empathetic manage to negotiate and survive the bureaucractic, money-hungry nightmare which has consumed so many misguided social agencies? They were once created to feed, house, and protect the hungry, homeless, and abused souls among us. What has happened to them? I have always taught her to respect and love the unlovable. Now I wonder if I have done the right thing, encouraging the sensitive, gentle aspects of her personality to overrun its natural instinct for self-preservation. How will she take care of herself if something happens to us?
She will probably not approve of my using this video or talking so candidly about her. I could pretend nothing is wrong, smile, talk of inane subjects, and leave calmly in a few days. After all, that is the usual course my life has followed for the last, almost five decades. Yeah, you could say the idea of mea culpa has been working its magic on me lately. My bad?