Surrounded by Bears

April 29, 2010

The other day I did something a little nutty and thought, “Wow, is this not a metaphor for caring for Lauren?” “Bear” with me while I put things in context.

We live in a beautiful country setting in an area of New Jersey that has an ever growing population of bears. I’ve lived here for forty- two years but I did not see my first bear until about ten years ago and it was several years before I saw another one. Controversy is thick and messy now about what to do about the rapidly increasing threat to life and property that the bears represent. No one wants to see these beautiful creatures harmed but the “they were here first” argument doesn’t really stick in an area that didn’t have to support bears until recently.

My close encounters with bears started only this month when I found that one had been up on my deck and destroyed the little bird feeder that I have there so that I can watch the birds while I feed Lauren. This, probably three hundred pounds plus, bruin actually left nose prints on the window. Scary, huh. Well, now I’m a bit rattled about being out on our property alone. We’re surrounded by woods and there are no houses within “hollerin” distance. I like to walk down to the mailbox on a nice day and get some exercise. Round trip takes about fifteen minutes. I didn’t want to give up this little pleasure because of a bear...but I’d need to protect myself, right? What can I do? What can I do?

Alright, don’t laugh but I grabbed a broom, one of those bright blue handle, sunshine yellow angle bristles, weighs all of about eight ounces, models. So, picture me walking down our lonely, lengthy driveway carrying my weapon. Ineffective – yeah, rather. A delaying tactic – hopefully. Will the colors distract my attacker? Unless bears are color blind. But, I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I was doing the best that I could with what I had to work with.

Isn’t that how I’ve been caring for Lauren as well? I do the best that I can knowing in the long run how ineffective the plans I have been able to make for her will truly be. In a crisis, the life that she is now living will fall apart before too long. Is what I am doing right now only a delaying tactic? Yes, and that’s OK.....for now. But just as I need to find something more effective to protect myself from a bear encounter, I need to find a more effective answer to planning for Lauren’s future. There are so many distractions - the economy, competing social problems, and a lack of understanding of the urgent need - that are preventing the development of respectful and sensible answers to caring for all of the Laurens that are residents of our communities. But they are only distractions. They will not prevent the inevitable from happening. The numbers of individuals with developmental disabilities are ever increasing and there are no concrete plans to meet their needs. I, at least, have my broom (current services) that is allowing me to protect and care for Lauren ....for now. Most families have little or nothing to ward off the threats that each day, let alone the future, holds for their loved one. They are surrounded by “bears” and their pleas for help go unheard.

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