Radiogurl a la Carte

Friday, Apr. 30, 2004

Today was one of those days when I was working in a daze, trying to do everything and hating every minute of it. 00 was out sick Ė only because she beat me to the phone this morning to call in. Unfortunately that meant that I couldnít call out sick. I probably would have been called in to work, sick or not. We had a major story break, one that I had to phone in to the Associated Press. It was one of those stories that make you physically ill.

This community is horrendous for its drug traffic, despite its size. I know drugs are rampant everywhere, but this particular area is above and beyond when it comes to that. The drug of choice used to be marijuana. Now itís methamphetamines. I see it every day in my work, see the lives it destroys, see children whose eyes are haunted by the loss of innocence that can never be reclaimed.

A local woman took her five kids to school Wednesday, probably 8:30 or thereabouts in the morning. She dropped them off, then drove home and went into the house but left her five-month-old son in the car.

If it had been today, the outcome might have been different. Today was cool and cloudy all day. Yesterday was sunny and hot and by the time Child Protective Services showed up to find out why she failed to pick her other kids up from school, they were too late to save the baby boy. He wasnít discovered until nearly 6PM. They called for an ambulance but emergency teams said when they arrived the child was already gone.

Mom was convicted on drug charges in 2000 and had several warrants out for her arrest for not showing up for court. She plea-bargained out of child abuse charges in the previous drug case, and had another child neglect case complete with warrant for failure to appear, dating back to just a few months ago.

My oldest son attended school with this woman a few years ago. She was once a living, breathing human being, yet a lifestyle of drugs turned her into something so abominable that most of us canít even fathom it.

The immediate outcry is probably going to be, ďWhy doesnít Child Protective Services do their job? Why werenít these kids taken away?Ē

Truth is, Iíve talked to CPS workers who are on the verge of nervous breakdowns, some suicidal themselves. They deal with this level of abuse all the time and the law precludes them from keeping the children out of harmís way. The intent is to try and keep families together. That sounds very noble on paper. But when it comes to reality, it ends up sentencing innocent children to a life in hell, and all too often, to an early grave. CPS employees have to go through the motions of helping, dealing with the same families and same horrors over and over again. And because jails and courts are so overwhelmed, no one gets locked away until the unthinkable happens Ė if then.

Some children end up with parents who feed them drugs. Iíve seen cases of moms who spike the babyís bottle to make them sleep. Iíve seen stories of children beaten, burned, cut, sodomized, raped, and murdered, all by parents whose drug habits have fried any semblance of decency or morality they ever possessed. Some of these parents Ė and I use the term loosely Ė have literally smoked, inhaled, or injected away their conscience, their children, their livelihoods, their lives, and any hopes and dreams they once might have nourished. And they really donít get it. The concepts of responsibility and good and right are simply outside the scope of their collective understanding, excised with a physicianís precision by chemicals that are illegal and downright poisonous.

As bad as my life is occasionally, itís times like these I appreciate what I have. My children are all more or less healthy now. I donít worry about my grandchildren being exposed to chemicals that will addict them before theyíre in kindergarten. Thatís not to say Iím thrilled with life in general, but it does tilt my perspective a little.

I hope to God that tomorrow is a better day. Let me have something to laugh about. Let me have something to smile about. If nothing else, let me have a moment to truly savor the ways in which I am blessed, and to never forget the depths from which Iíve already risen.

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )