Today I am frustrated and sad. Like jittery inside - must take action - frustrated my 'real' job doesn't allow for me to do what I need and want to do, frustrated. It's a familiar feeling. It's compelling and strong. A ball of visceral energy in my core that wants to propel me to action. Yet, I feel trapped. It's not a good feeling.
In the past two weeks, I've received four emails through Meghan's Hope from parents or grandparents of children who died the same way Meghan did recently. From a fallen piece of furniture or TV. It literally breaks my heart. Meghan died almost 8 years ago. The anniversary of her death is rapidly approaching. I get random emails through the Web site or Meghan's Hope Facebook page periodically, but so many in a short period of time is unusual. Every parent says the same thing. Many of them have also started awareness campaigns. They all sound just like I did when we first started Meghan's Hope.
It is so frustrating to have to tell them how difficult it is to work so hard at raising awareness and to have your message fall on deaf ears. There is an initial flood of support from the local community, media, friends and family. Then, they go back to their lives, having done 'their' part. Sure, there is a subset of parents and others who actually take the message to heart and take action and spread the word. There are many, many others who ignore it, think it can't happen to them, post completely horrible insensitive and offensive comments to one's educational posts/links and an endless trail of slammed doors when one tries to reach out to furniture manufacturers, local businesses and big box and local stores asking them to do one simple thing, help raise awareness and SELL FURNITURE AND TV SAFETY STRAPS! It's a seemingly no-brainer. They make money for selling them. Parents will buy them, just like they do outlet plugs. Kids will be safer. Maybe, just maybe, no parent will ever again have to bury their child because a fallen piece of furniture or TV claimed their life. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently, it still is.
Don't get me wrong. The efforts of Meghan's Hope and Katie's Foundation for Child Safety have saved lives. More parents are aware of the dangers than we were. We have reached local, state and national media. We have reached the CPSC and inspired studies, safety alerts and a change in the ASTM standards (an international voluntary standard organization) for furniture safety. Storage furniture does come with warnings and tethering straps now. They are not always sufficient to hold the weight of the piece, but it's something. The first thing I bought that came with that warning label and tethering device (a desk) made me cry tears of gratefulness along with tears of guilt that I didn't do it and my daughter lost her life as a result. KidCo makes a flat screen TV strap and there are built in slots in flat screen TV's for tethering straps now. *Some* stores carry Safety First or KidCo furniture straps. Amazon.com carries a full selection. Our angels facilitated these changes.
Still, more needs to be done. All of our little grass root non-profits and awareness campaigns are great, but children are still dying. We do not have the national or global reach that is needed. We do not have the support of the furniture manufacturers or the furniture stores and big box stores. They still do not display our educational materials or brochures, they do not sell furniture and TV straps! WTF?!
We do not have the financial ability or marketing capabilities of large non-profit organizations that can fund-raise to support a national level educational campaign. We don't have the 'clout' it takes to get the attention of furniture stores and department or specialty stores. They are too afraid their businesses will suffer I guess. Or maybe they just don't think it matters enough. We don't have the time it takes, either. It's a huge undertaking. I did it nearly full time when I was a SAHM. Most of us are trying to do it on our own, while working full time jobs, raising a family and trying to save other children and families from our pain. It's a labor of love and it's all consuming.
With every passing day as of late, I'm feeling so strongly compelled to do more. I am just not happy with my piecemeal efforts. My calling is THIS work. I don't know how to do it. Well, I do. I don't know how to make it work given my other obligations. It is beyond frustrating. I'm working on some ideas. They all take time. Lots of time. A precious commodity I just don't have enough of. Then again, if someone else had done what I want to do years ago, maybe Meghan wouldn't have died. Maybe all the other children wouldn't have died. I. Must. Find. A. Way.
I know that eventually, I will figure out a way to balance it. It's so difficult to do. To honor Meg's memory and that of all her friends in the next place who suffered the same fate. To reach parents around the globe, the furniture industry, everyone. I really thought I'd have done that by now, at least locally, ideally nationally. Life has a way of getting in the way of preventing death. It's a common tale. I don't like it.
Universe, please, show me the way.