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Reform

I have been hesitant to write about this for years because the memory is so painful.

And I have been watching my friends divide and unravel in the last week.

I have remained silent.

Part of the reason is that I am a privileged white woman. I am. I see this fight. I know this fight is overdue. And I am so afraid of saying the wrong thing. Picking up my phone at the wrong time, exposing myself as a Karen.

Can I just pause for one second and apologize to ALL of my friends named Karen? I am so sorry this all somehow got pegged on your name. Sorry, back to my thoughts.

I have admittedly, been a Karen. I have walked in with my Marriott points and demanded better service, I have switched rooms, tables, asked for the manager. I have at times been an ass. I am working on this.

A friend of mine took her daughter into a Chik-Fil-A a couple weeks ago. My friend is half Hispanic, half English. Her daughter’s father is black. They ordered their fries well done, the manager refused and somewhere along the way, the manager told them they could wait for their fries while they waited for the police.

My friend was ready to sit in the booth and sip her sweet tea while she waited for the police until her daughter started to cry. “No police. Please Mommy.”

They left without their well-done fries.

My friend is fine to wait for the police. Her daughter is growing up to fear them.

I do not care what side you are on. Read the above again. I am not for defunding. I am for reforming. Why does this nine year old fear the police?

I was on the wrong side.

Once.

This is ironic because I really pushed the police several times in my 20’s. They could have hauled my drunk ass to jail and everyone would have said, “Yeah…..well.”

And for that I thank you.

But at time when you and I really needed to connect, we missed it. We missed it to the point I had to go through trauma therapy to be able to write and post about this as I do now. EMDR- three months. I highly recommend it.

On July 25, 2010 my daughter died in my mom’s house. She suffered a massive seizure. When paramedics arrived, there was no heartbeat but they kept working. I jumped in the ambulance as we took off to the hospital.

My husband grabbed his keys to follow behind. The detective on-scene stopped him. He told Hubs he would drive him. There was no option. Get in the car.

My parents tried to get in their cars to follow. They were told they had to stay behind.

This house in Highlands Ranch became a potential crime scene.

My husband drove with the detective. He was told that we would be separated for questioning. We were not under arrest. We were not suspects. We had done nothing wrong but this was protocol.

The hospital called our primary care physician. While she was devastated, she told the ED doc this was not unexpected- that our girl was very sick and had been for a while. The ED docs accepted this. Douglass county coroner was on their way and we all started the lifetime process of grieving our girl.

It was Sunday and the coroner had to be paged at home. According to our jurisdiction, until a body was released, we were under investigation.

Hubs and I were separated and we were not allowed to be alone in the room with Samantha. We could not leave the hospital. We were stuck; waiting for the coroner.

Oh Lord. I was so mad and sad and just let me grieve and be with her. I paced the hall like a caged tiger.

“I know how you feel,” said the young policeman denying me entrance into her room.

I may have thrown an F-bomb. I didn’t care.

How dare you.

How dare you?

“What?! How could you possibly know how I feel? You need to let me in there!”

I had pushed my luck. The room changed. People stood up, faces grew hard.

Hubs touched my arm and pulled me back. I watched people react. I was a suspect. Everything I held true about this world and my place in it had changed.

Things could go wrong very quickly. Medical evidence and doctors clearance be dammed. I was suspect.

I was so sad. I was so angry. But beyond all of those things, I was very scared.

And so I complied. I did not say another word. We said goodbye to our child with that same policeman looking over. We never had another moment alone with our girl.

They confiscated all of the meds in her diaper bag. The detective told me he was taking them. I looked in the bag and saw my Zoloft sitting on top. I joking asked if I could have that back because I might need my anti-depressants.

I told a joke because I was so afraid of doing something wrong.

Three hours later they cleared my mom to leave. Her lovely upper middle class house in Highlands Ranch was searched inch by inch. The poor dog was so traumatized he blew his entire coat for three weeks.

This was protocol. I get that. You were following step by step what was in the training manual.

I do not blame you. Any of you. But maybe we can all sit at a table and say when a traumatic event happens it is not one person against another. There is no right or wrong. Maybe we can ALL do better.

I contacted Douglas County Police. They told me all child death cases are treated the same. I asked about creating a program to first responders recognize a medically complex child.

They told me there was no budget for that reform.

What if we had been black? What if it wasn’t in Highlands Ranch? What if we were in 5 points? What if there were something suspect on either of our records? What if I fit every single profile we all talk about.

What if I fit that profile and I threw an F-bomb in the Emergency Room. Would the outcome be different? Even worse?

This is not you against me. This is us. As a community doing better.

I thank you for what you do. With all of my heart. I know this post might make some of you angry.

I implore you to think how you would have responded had it been your child.

And if you were black.

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