On the day we had to Baker Act María last spring, I was so angry I took most of the morning off from work and went on a tear through her room. I was angry at her, for sure. But more than anything, I was so incredibly angry at the way things had happened, how much had gone wrong, how no matter how hard we tried to do right by her, the forces of darkness and chaos always seemed to win. Her room was filled with flotsam, jetsam, legan and derelict everywhere you looked. I had long since stopped trying to keep it a little girl’s room and had simply redrawn the line at no food and drink. Now I was determined that it was all going, every single last bit of the junk was going out. I wanted to see the floor. I wanted a chair I could sit in if I felt like it. I wanted surfaces I could dust and clean. I wanted a bed made with hospital corners and sheets tucked in tight enough to allow a coin to bounce. The wonderful little cat quartet her Uncle Lenny had given her needed to be all lined up and the G*) D%!!J drawers of her dresser closed for the first time in years.
I was a whirling dervish that day and before I was over, I had slammed furniture from one place to another in the room. It wasn’t enough to have sorted what mattered from trash. I needed to reclaim the room even more, place the furniture where I wanted it, to have that much control in the middle of having none at all. I can still conjure up the white-hot rage that stung my lungs, my eyes, my mouth, that burned me to my soul.
All that happened almost a year ago now. Tomorrow morning, I am getting up early to drive to BARC to pick up the girl who begins a new school adventure at Whispering Pines, another “learning center” that we are trying next. Tonight, Sherod and I took Maria out for a nice dinner and she was just this side of a motormouth, chattering and bubbling over with excitement about the new school. She was happy, funny, gracious, an absolute joy to be around. On the way back from the restaurant we sang along to I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. When we got to BARC she ran off to her Zumba ‘esercise’ class, reminding me over her shoulder that I should not be late in the morning.
Not that the hell has not continued, at least intermittently for her and for us, but that she is still in my life, that she is safe and so are we, that driving away doesn’t tear me apart like it used to, that yesterday morning, she donned a choir robe and sang with the choir at St Ambrose like she was just a kid, a regular, beautiful kid who loves to sing. My prayer tonight and my prayer on the way to the new school tomorrow will be the same: Oh God of second chances and new beginnings-here we are again.