Ever think you had it all together? There you are, on your bike, heading through the bush, negotiating the curves without a problem, slipping over the outer edges of the ruts and feeling the rush that comes with doing something right.

And then you barrel around the corner running into what appears to be a convention of bears. You're not a bit relieved either when you realize that it's not a bear convention after all, just a mother and her three cubs. Yes siree, it could turn into a real Shema (the last thing a Jewish is supposed to recite prior to death!) kind of moment.

Sometimes conventional wisdom doesn't applyNow, the conventional wisdom in regards to bear encounters is pretty straight-forward. If you're attacked, you fight black bears and play dead for grizzlies. So providing you're not brain-numb from fear you can usually figure out your response. In my case, there were no humps on the critters, which would indicate grizzlies, and they were definitely black. So, according to bear lore, I fight, right?

Except, being a mother and a grandma, I realized that threatening the bear's youngsters would have invited a fight that I couldn't win so I chose to handle the encounter instinctively. Forget the arm waving and screaming in an attempt to scare them off. No way would I follow professional advice. I chose, instead, to become a statue, barely drawing in a breath. And sure enough, it worked. The mama and her cubs flew across the road, the big sow barking, as she kicked up the dust a few feet from me.

I can still hear her bark and see the dark pink of her throat. And I, also, remember the lesson: Sometimes conventional wisdom doesn't apply. A few weeks ago I ran into two-legged kind of bears and I identified them easily. They were grizzlies, very territorial grizzlies, in fact, and they expected me to play dead. Their attack came out of the blue.

Things were going well in my life. Oh, there were a few bumps ahead but I had enough experience and, hopefully, faith to know that they could be overcome. I definitely wasn't ready for allegations of verbal abuse, harassment and being the cause of a nervous breakdown. Not my familiar bump at all. The accusations were in regards to Marnie, a young special needs woman whom I had befriended. She was the daughter of a close friend of mine and I had known her for two years. I had participated in her birthday parties and other family celebrations. Her mother often referred to me as Marnie's "auntie". So, when Marnie was placed into a "share-home" with a loving family it was natural for me to keep in contact with her.

She called me often and I returned her calls. It worked well. And she was happy. Her parents were happy. What more could you expect? The problem occurred when Marnie had to go into respite care because her caregiver had to leave town for a short period of time and would be unable to care for her upon her return. The respite home that she was placed in was one in which she had been before. It had been a very negative experience for Marnie and when she left she had begged her mother not to make her go back.

Well, of course, her mother would never make her return but the social organization, who knew very well how to manipulate and negate parental rights, had no such scruples. So Marnie went back to a place that had made her extremely unhappy and fearful, where she was denied use of the phone and where incoming calls from her support group from outside the organization were blocked. How does one react to that? Well, I was angry and very frightened for my young friend. I had promised that I would call her, knowing that she would be unable to call out.

I could visualize her sitting by the phone in the home of the people who thought of her as income and nothing more. I was certain that she felt abandoned and unloved. Her parents were out of town so I knew that I was on my own. I called the social organization that had knowingly put her in this situation, explaining my concern and asking them how she could be denied use of a phone. They said that they would check into it.

I was certain that she felt abandoned and unlovedLater in the day, Marnie was permitted to call me from the office of this organization and I was relieved. I saw Marnie a few days later. She volunteered with a group that I worked with. She was visibly depressed, wouldn't make eye contact, was unkempt and dressed in what appeared to be pajama bottoms. This was so unlike her. She had always been clean, well dressed, up-beat and laughter had come easily. Later, her worker activated a cell phone for Marnie and she began calling me daily, sometimes twice a day. She was still unhappy and depressed but at least, I was able to hear her voice. I kept telling myself that Marnie's stay with these people would be for a short time. The organization would either find her a new home, as promised, or if the previous caregivers were willing, she would return to them.

Simple? No. Because, as I learned; the previous caregivers did want her back. They missed her and had grown to love her. However, the organization had decided that they knew better. They had decided that Marnie should stay permanently where she was, in the home that had isolated her and had denied her access to her family and friends, a home where she was easily intimidated.

I was aware of the emotional damage that had been done during Marnie's previous stay with these people and I became even more frightened for her. It was on a Saturday night, just after Shabbat, that Marnie called me. I had learned on the Friday that Marnie's previous care-givers wanted her back and I relayed the message. Marnie was ecstatic when she learned that she could leave her present situation and return to a place where she was wanted. All she had to do was contact her advocate within the organization and discuss it with her. After all, the organization had always stressed that Marnie was an adult. She could choose. And now that she had an option, she would be able to make a choice.

She was happy. Life was good again.

On Monday, someone from the organization called the coordinator of the group that I volunteered with and accused me of abuse and harassment and said that my phone number had been blocked because of this. She said that Marnie was frightened of me and never wanted to see me again and that she'd had a nervous breakdown. I was angry and concerned for her. I was confused and after talking with a friend who had been through a similar experience, I became frightened. "This is their way of isolating, Marni. They don't want waves. They could have you in jail so fast that it'll make your head spin. They could put words in Marnie's mouth and no one will know the difference. Marnie wouldn't even know the difference. She and others like her are easily manipulated. Pull back. Do nothing and it'll blow over."

I must admit, a very big part of me wanted to do just that. Letting it blow over sounded very good indeed. Let her mother deal with it. Not my responsibility. All of these were very appealing options because I have always hated confrontations and let's face it, I was fearful of retribution. If I filed a complaint and demanded a retraction or even an explanation then they could come after me, even though I had done nothing wrong, nor had I ever been alone with her. A part of me was really fearful of these guys. They had the power and the money and they could do a great deal of damage just by manipulating Marnie and revising her memory. They'd done it before. Yes, fear was a big issue.

It was the following day, after the accusations were made, that I became reacquainted with Yocheved and Miriam through the pages of our Torah. You remember this gutsy twosome, Moses' mother and sister. They were the midwives who had defied Pharaoh and had refused to kill Jewish male infants upon their birth. The women had feared G‑d far more than Pharaoh. They refused to stand by while their brother's blood was shed. (Leviticus 19:16).

Her emotional and psychological well-being was being sacrificed on the altar of bloated egosSurely, I could find the courage to stand up to a mere organization that in reality didn't compare to Pharaoh, our ancient nemesis. And quite, honestly, Marnie's blood was being shed. Her emotional and psychological well-being was being sacrificed on the altar of bloated egos. I spoke with Marnie's parents, who had also been informed of the incident. They had panicked when they learned of the breakdown. They had no idea where Marnie was. Was she in the hospital? They had no answers so they rushed into the organization to find the facts.

And I decided to write a letter of complaint. So, I wrote the letter, documenting my conversations with Marnie as well as the dates and times that she had called me. I wrote about her apparent depression and visible neglect. I told how Marnie had indicated that she didn't want to go to the home of these people, had even related to me how an employee of the organization had told her that she was lucky that they would take her back.

Suddenly, it was about Marnie and not about my tarnished reputation. I was fighting for her and her right to live out her remaining years in a stress free and loving environment. I sent copies of my complaint to the head of the organization as well as the organization that funded them. I sent a copy to the regional director and earmarked one for the Provincial Advocate, in case I needed to go higher up and then I waited for a response.

Now, three weeks later, I still haven't heard back. And, I have also learned that Marnie has deteriorated even more, mentally as well as physically. The organization has informed Marnie's parents that they were searching for another place for her but they have yet to find one. So the vulnerable young woman remains in a home that has stolen her joy and sense of well being, not to mention her parents and friends. Was it all for nothing? Hopefully, for Marnie's sake, no.

I pray that the organization is truly searching for another home and that she will soon be moved to a secure and loving environment. But, I am perplexed as to why it is taking so long. As I replay the whole ordeal in my head I realize, also, that the accusations made against me were Providential. If, I hadn't been attacked by the community organization then it is more than likely that the seriousness of Marnie's situation would never have been exposed. I also learned how our Torah could reach through time to guide us through each moment of our life. It was Miriam and Yocheved that taught me by example and also transformed my fear of Pharaoh into fear of G‑d. These courageous women also taught me that there are times when you simply don't have the option to play dead.