And every single time, I am completely blindsided.
Before I changed sections, my paralegal was under orders to warn me if I was about to review certain types of cases.
When I was younger, this stuff didn't bother me as much. In all honesty, some of the most horrific cases I've ever seen came from those younger years. Thankfully. Because I would have a freaking hard time with them now. But the Marine Corps and motherhood have changed me. Marine Corps training designed to "desensitize" me to violence did the exact opposite. Motherhood raised my level of concern for others to an exceptionally high level.
I'm rambling now.
This morning, I was blindsided again.
Last night a servicemember who was probably a client of mine (her name has not yet been released so I honestly don't know) was killed by the father of her child.
I have very few details, and I wouldn't disclose any more even if I did. But it isn't the details that matter. It's the fact that it happened at all. It's the scenario that played out in my head as I was being briefed on this incident this morning. Two parents fighting over a small child, possibly a baby. A small child caught in the middle of a poisonous dispute between the two people that make up that little one's whole world. A mother, fighting to protect her child, fighting because she is worried about her baby and doesn't want to be separated from him. A fight that ends in a separation of devastating finality. A small child without a mother, a father who will likely spend most of his life in jail, who that child will never really know and may never forgive.
And I just want to scream at someone, at anyone, that this is so effing stupid. This is WRONG. In a moment of rage, a father orphaned his child.
If the father had had any willingness to try to understand the mother's feelings, if he had had any idea whatsoever of the fear and anxiety a mother feels when being asked to be separate from her child, their conversation would have gone differently. If she could, for a moment, take herself out of her own fear and concern and understand that a father's love also runs deep, that it is painful to be a "secondary" part of your own child's life, the conversation would have gone differently. If both of them would have thought about the sadness and anxiety placed on that child being present while his parents fought, the conversation would have gone differently. In short, if they would have acted compassionately toward one another, if both of them - or even one of them - would have refused to do to the other what they would not want to have happen to themselves, that baby would still have two loving parents.
My description of this incident is purely conjecture and extrapolation. I don't know what really happened. So this should not be affecting me nearly as much as it is.
Situations like this, atrocities far worse than this, happen every single day. That doesn't make it less painful. That makes it worse.
If people would just stop thinking about themselves for 10 effing minutes, maybe things would change. If we could focus on feeding the hungry instead of killing abortion doctors, maybe things would change. If we just felt a little more compassion and a little less anger, maybe things would change.
I can't fix this. Even in my capacity as an attorney, there is next to nothing I can do.
But saying that just feels wrong. There has to be something. Maybe I can't whisk that baby away and comfort him and give him a peaceful home (even though I want to - I can't get the thought out of my head), but I can do something. I can end cycles of anger and selfishness in my life. And the better I am at it, the more it will spread. While the goal of compassion is never to get something out of it for yourself, you would be amazed by the change it inspires in people when you treat them in a truly compassionate manner. Especially those who you want to treat with anger. Especially those who expect you to treat them inconsiderately. Try it. For a child who had two parents yesterday and has none today.
And I can continually TRY to impress, with the utmost gravity, upon my clients the importance of working with the other parent, the estranged spouse, the merchant who's ripping them off and of seeing both sides.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~The Lorax by Dr. Seuss