26 September 2008

What To Do?

We got home the other night to a peculiar and difficult message on the answering machine. It was from the woman who’d been our housecleaner for many years, until we moved out of our apartment in the city four years ago. We haven’t spoken to her since then.

The message was very hard to understand, so much so that we listened to it three times, a perfect storm of English as a second language, a Guatemalan accent, and a scratchy cellphone connection. Eventually, I picked out “six weeks”, “Kennedy Airport”, a phone number, a reference to a lawyer, and her daughter’s name. I still had no idea what she was talking about, but something sent me to the computer to Google her daughter’s name.

Shock. About six weeks ago, a young woman was killed on the roof of a midtown club, where she’d gone to a birthday party for a rapper. It was our housecleaner’s daughter.

I spoke to her later, and I still don’t quite know what she wants or needs, or what she was asking us for. But it’s deeply saddening, and completely unsettling. And I don’t know what to do.

I know that there’s a court date in November. I know that there’s a raffle for an airplane ticket. I know that there’s a lawyer. I could call the lawyer. I could buy a raffle ticket or three. I could go to the court date and give her a hug. I could send her some money.

The daughter was a good daughter, supportive of her mother, a helpful kid who made phone calls for her mom (because the kid spoke better English). The daughter had a job – and while I don’t know if she was living with her mother, I’m sure she was helping to support her mother. Because her mother has another child. A severely handicapped Down syndrome boy who’s eight now. And that’s the piece of it that really pushes the envelope for me – that boy lost his sister. That boy lost the sister who might have been with him after their mother’s gone. What about that boy?

I think I'll put a check in the mail later, but it just doesn't feel like enough.

28 comments:

Mama Zen said...

What a nightmare for that poor woman!

Ellie said...

What a terrible story. Poor woman.

lucidkim said...

I'm sure money helps (doesn't it always!) but not speaking English well likely makes this horrible nightmare for her that much more so...she isn't going to understand a lot of what is going on or what is expected of her. I'm sure she's in shock and sad and scared and panicked about her future.

kim

Mad said...

Call the lawyer. Find out what you can and see if there may be other ways to help.

Kyla said...

How terribly sad.

Anjali said...

Oh, that's just terrible. SO sorry.

kathy a. said...

how awful.

it sounds like the lawyer might be a prosecutor -- not a personal lawyer. but many if not most prosecutor's offices have victim/witness advocates. it cannot hurt to call and see what they can do to help, see if they know what others can do to help. at a minimum, they should be able to supply someone who can communicate what is happening to your friend, and they may be able to line up other services that would support her.

painted maypole said...

oh, ouch. as you don't know what to do, I don't know what to say. it's awful.

nutmeg said...

Give us an address! I'm in.

Ree said...

How horrible. Please let us know if we can do anything also.

liz said...

Sending hugs and also a ditto of ree and nutmeg.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

She must have great faith in you to reach out to you at such a time. Maybe she wants someone familiar to help her understand the legal process? I would definitely call the attorney.

Keep us posted.

Marmite Breath said...

What a terrible situation. I wish this poor family didn't have to go through it. I think calling the lawyer is a good idea. This woman must really need you if you haven't talked to her for four years and she's calling you.

She She said...

I remember hearing about this girl. So sad. Heartbreaking. What can WE do? Can we buy a raffle ticket?

Mayberry said...

That's truly tragic. What an awful situation!

Kathy A's suggestion about the victim advocate seems right on the mark.

jen said...

what a terrible thing. yes, tell us how to buy the tickets too.

Kate Lord Brown said...

I am so sorry. It just makes me so mad, the waste, the heartbreak. What world is this? We need an army of mothers. If there's anything can do so far away, just ask.

flutter said...

oof! That poor woman. i think the best thing you can do is send the check and go give her a hug.

Eva said...

Maybe call the lawyer? If you know someone who can translate for her maybe put them in touch? So sorry to hear.

Vodka Mom said...

omg. That is the most horrible story. I am shaking my head right now.

Mental P Mama said...

I think I remember this news story. I would call the lawyer to see if there's anything to do. Although nothing is going to bring that girl back. Such a tragedy.

Mental P Mama said...

PS: Feel better.

Vodka Mom said...

p.s. you had me at "women for Obama".

noble pig said...

Oh no, how completely horrible, a nightmare really. It's so sad when things like this, tragedies strike. I'm sorry.

PicaboMama said...

Ugh...I would be at a complete loss for what to do. All I have to offer are kind thoughts. I'll send a few in that direction.

phd in yogurtry said...

Ugh. Hurts my stomach thinking about her loss.

Ditto the victim advocacy center as a potential resource. There are also victims of homicide support groups (her language may be a barrier to most). And a few dollars can go a long way.

ALM said...

I think what they'd need the most now is somebody to advocate for the boy while he's in school. Making sure he gets the services he's entitled to and does not fall through the cracks...

womaninawindow said...

I don't think there is anything that IS enough in a situation like this. But you reaching out I'm sure will go a long way in letting that woman know she is not all alone.