Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Death Of A Tiny Dancer: Goodbye Nakita

I was stunned by the news. I had a beautiful client named Nakita. She was a dancer. She was a kid. She was just 22. She is dead. No one knows how she died. No one knows why she died. The police officer said to me "sometimes people just go. We never find out why." Maybe God just needed a tiny dancer up in Heaven.

She has been dead for nearly 9 months now. I had lost track of her. A little over a year ago, I had helped her and she seemed to be starting to take control of her life. She appeared to be getting out of a life that ran too fast for her, and was settling into a life that was "normal."

I was tipped off to her death earlier today by a oblique e-mail. I did some sleuthing and next thing I know I was looking at her friends blog which paid tribute to Nakita. I saw her picture there, it was a different look for her, but the smile was unmistakable. I pulled my file and confirmed it was her. She was 22.

Police in her hometown had posted a number for those that might have information about her. I called and spoke to a detective who told me they have no known cause of death. I asked him if it was a homicide (which was natural since homicide is covering the case.) He said it had not been ruled a homicide or a suicide. He told me a few things I didn't know. I became sadder knowing she had not been able to put her old life completely behind her. She was a good kid. She had a certain spirit about her. And a naivete, which, given her field, seemed misfitted. I couldn't help but wonder if I had done enough for her.

In my practice, we try to go beyond handling cases and put time into clients. We attack their social problems and try to put them in better positions than when they came in. Not just legally but sociologically as well. We help them to try to find employment and to address their addiction concerns. We get them help with anger or with learning to handle family and job related responsibilities. We try to change their worlds enough so that they do not become clients again.

I wondered if she had been taking care of herself. I wondered if she had done this to herself or if someone had done it to her. I wondered about her dad, who she loved so. I felt bad I had not taken more time to check on her. I wonder if it would have mattered.

Life is busy. I have limited time to help those who are in my present care, and to care for those in my life who need me outside of the office. I know it is not my responsibility to care for a client's life after they are no longer a client. Still did I do enough for this one.

In my mind's eye I see the exotic dancer who spoke of loving the ballet. I see the daughter who feared she had let down her dad and mom. I see the young woman who was proud of herself for pulling her life back together. I see her smile. It will haunt me for nights to come.

Good night tiny dancer. Goodbye Nakita...
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