She first got in my car with her headset on and a book in her hand. No way was she going to allow me to connect with her. No way was she going to let me in. Then I asked her to pop her music on in my car so we could both hear it – and she lit up. From that point on, the radio and music in the car was her domain.
A couple of years ago, I decided I needed to give more, as I have a tendency to get lost in my work, practice and the day-to-day goings-on of my family... As I suppose many of us do. Experiencing depth and the glory sometimes takes me having to get out of my own way in order to find and experience my own inner heroine.
After being inspired by my sister-in-law, Kris, I chose to attend an orientation to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children. The orientation I attended, here in Tucson, was full of fresh and excited people. There were several presentations made by local non-profits, all needing help with children who are wards of the state. We saw slide shows, videos, in-person presentations – all pleading their cases on how badly we were needed. There were about 100 people in that room and by the end of the presentation, many of them looked tired. Some said out loud, that it was too much for them and they would not be back. I chose to stay and find out more.
I put my name on the list to attend the 30 hour training session and endure the rigorous process of finger-printing, lie detector test and background checks in order to become a certified CASA. It was grueling. As a part of our training, we sat in courtrooms and watching and listening to the sad stories of drug-addicted parents who weren't allowed to see their children – some for years. Hearings about sexual molestation, physical abuse and neglect. It was heart-breaking stuff. Yet I chose to continue.
Before that time, I detested court rooms. I would avoid courts at all costs. In my opinion, not a whole lot of fun was had in a court room, so there was no need for me to be there. And now? I know many of the judges by name – and they know me.
After I was officially crowned a CASA, I was shown about 6-8 cases. I got to choose which case would be mine. Typically, for a first case, we're told to get a baby – as they are considered easier cases. Well, no easy cases were to be found in my stack. Every horrible type of case we witnessed in the courtroom was sitting there in my stack waiting for a CASA. Waiting for me to choose.
I chose a teenage girl. Actually, I always say, she chose me. Her birthday was on the exact day that I chose. It was a sign.
Now, after nearly two years, her case will probably be closed this week. She is reunited with her parent. And, that means the goal of reunification was met. It was a harrowing two years. Filled with every teenage angst and drama you can possibly imagine – and then some. And you know what? I love her. She makes me smile. She has come a very long way in one year and I am very proud of her. It wasn't always perfect and it was not always pretty, but she was never alone in her journey, and for that I am grateful.
Now, as I prepare my court presentation for her hearing, and she and I joke about me taking her in my “chariot” to the court. I feel the gladness of my heart is that my CASA girl is now safely with her family and able to snuggle with her kitty every night when she goes to sleep, instead of falling asleep to the shouting, as she did before. And, yes... there are still radio stations set on the dial that are hers, and maybe they'll always be there as a tribute to us.
Founder of WomenontheVerge.net