She sat there, so stiff and yet so frail. Uneasy and on the edge of her seat, she tried to look confident while waiting so long it seemed like an eternity. Dressed in an old baggy day dress, a shabby black purse and worn chipped shoes, the taut look of her jaw shouted anger and pain.
And then she spoke…. tentatively at first… attempting to portray confidence to the person sitting opposite her. This young mother, found guilty of child abuse, was intent on regaining custody of her young son who was taken from her and placed up for adoption in the courts. She tried to explain, excuse herself and promise it wouldn’t happen again while defending herself with a child welfare case worker. She begged and pleaded over and over.
Despite her poverty and ignorance, she was touching and eloquent while pleading her case - she had to get her precious son back….even though she put the little boys hand flat down on a scorching burner….even though she was a victim of abuse herself….even though she had no way out….and it would happen over and over again, time after time. The tension built to a tearful rage, until finally…. she accepted her fate, sadly picked herself up and left quitely.
The audience was still, incredulous, eyes of men and women filled with tears. It was all too sad and unbelievable… and the momentary silence that followed said it all - all of us in the audience were disturbed and uncomfortable with the possibility of this reality.
But it is the ineveitable for these fragile women with no out - it happens every day all across America in every kind of neighborhood. That Sunday night this fine performance was portrayed beautifully by my young daughter, Alice, who graduated from the Sanford Meisner Center for the Arts in Los Angeles. She played the part of the young mother in Final Placement by Ara Watson.
I will never forget… you should not forget…. we all share a common humanity with this young mother… we are responsible too.