RATING: G
NOTES: New series. See Part One.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the West Wing or any of its related
characters. Don't sue.
SUMMARY: Different people of the West Wing reflect on their lives so
far.

I am perfectly aware of the fact that he's not a horse. Why does
he have such a juvenile, unhealthy attitude towards vegetables and
nutrition? Doesn't he know it's because I care about him and I want
him to be healthy?
I've been working hard every day of my life for more than forty
years. I can't recall ever having been sick (vegetables can do that
for you) and I've always been good at what I do. I'm a good person. I
know this.
So why won't he just eat the raisin bran already?
What a group we are here in this White House. I have never seen
such a lively bunch. Even Toby can have his moments of euphoria.
They're all so playful, and when they work, they get serious, but the
underlying joy that comes with making a difference is always there.
It never goes away.
I've been working at jobs like this for as long as I can
remember. I've worked through wars, a marriage, the birth of my
children, the deaths of my children, the death of my husband and what
seems like so much more. There are times when I go to the graveyard
to visit my loved ones that I wonder about how I could have outlived
so many people that I've loved.
Then I think about the President, and his staff; Charlie having
the bad luck to wake the President; Toby trying to get a cookie from
me; Leo trying to keep everyone calm; Sam and Josh with their
playful, boyish antics; CJ being such a strong, noble, beautiful
woman...
And I smile. One generation replaces the next.
Today looks like it could be a long day. No surprise. There.
Every day is a long day. The President has a lot of meetings today,
crammed into one-hour chunks. I happen to know that he'll go over
time in each and every one of those meetings. Politicians like to
hear themselves speak; sometimes I think the President goes at the
top of that list.
Don't get me wrong. The President is a great man. But he does
like to hear his own voice. Why else would he know so much trivia? He
wants to spit it out.
How did I get this old? I look at these young faces and each one
feels like one of my children. Christmas isn't so bad any more,
sharing it with these people. They feel like my children; they can't
replace the children that I've lost, but I find that my instinct
towards them comes just naturally maternal.
I wonder if that makes any sense.
I could never tell them the truth. I could never look any of
them in the eye and tell them how strongly I feel for them. I think
they know though. I think they realize it and they return it in
respect. They seem to believe I could be their mother. Biologically
it's 200% impossible, but in our hearts, we're one big family and in
that family, the mother's role is mine.
It's enough to make me cry sometimes, thinking about these
people and the things they're trying to do for this glorious country;
the country my sons gave up their lives for. I keep a strong front,
and I try to be a strong woman for them, for the country and for
myself. I have to be strong and hold my strong exterior for it's what
keeps me going day by day.
The President is finally quieting again. I think Charlie got his
attention focused. Charlie's such a good young man. He's made my job
so much easier. If it weren't for him, I'd probably be doing all the
things he does. I'm proud of him. He's been through so much and he's
come out of it all so strong. Some people his age wouldn't be able to
handle some of the things he's gone through, and yet he comes in
every day with a smile on his face and an eagerness to face the day.
That usually goes away by the time he gets the President awake and
up, but he's usually still pretty optimistic.
It's overwhelming sometimes thinking about all the repercussions
of working at the White House. Everyone in this building makes a
difference, even me. At first, I question my importance here but then
I realized that Dr. Bartlet asked me here. He appreciates my work,
even if I do "cram oats down his throat like a horse" or whatever it
is he's always saying. He asked me to come here and work for him.
It's enough to make oneself proud.
I am a strong woman. I don't need anybody to tell me that. I
know it. My problem is that people expect me to always be strong and
they almost seem surprised when they learn something personal about
me. Charlie, for example, looked absolutely shocked when I told him
that I had once had children. Does a woman my age seem like someone
who has never had anybody? I realize that I'm a strong woman, and I
come to work everyday, ready to work and argue with the President
about his health, but I'm also human...
I don't talk about myself much, I know. I just feel like no one
wants to know anyway. We work and we go home. A line separates the
professional and the personal, though that line can get rather thin
from time to time. Sometimes it disappears altogether.
I got through another Christmas. I'm proud of myself. On
Christmas Eve, I thought of my sons and I cried, like I do every
Christmas still to this day. I believe that I've accepted the loss,
moved beyond it even, but on Christmas Eve, when I'm home alone and I
start to think about the men they were going to be, I can't help
but...
I'm tired. Every day I come in here, my strong front attached to
my face and my attitude and I work my hardest to be the best person I
can be. I try not to overreact or be pushy. I try not to stand out
too much against the grain or with it. I'm just the person in the
background who does all she can to help the President of the United
States.
Thinking about my sons tears away at the strong front. Sometimes
it tires me too. I wonder if any of these people know or wonder about
me or the things I think about.
I don't think so.
I doubt it greatly.
I've got to be getting to work. I have to get my day started.
The President is gone along with Charlie. The office seems quiet now.
I've sent Nancy to deliver schedules. Now I sit at my desk and just
wonder to myself as the computer boots up. There's a certain silence
that seems to fill the air. I feel like I could do whatever I wanted
to and never be seen. I just can't think of anything to do but work.
It's not that work is the only thing I think about; it's just the
only thing I can do without letting go of some fraction of the
personal strength that gets me through each day. I need that strong
front, even though it hides me away from them. I know the strong
front hides who I am from the people I work with and care about, but
I need it to get through each day.
It occurs to me that if I were to drop the strong front, maybe a
little at the time, these wonderful people could become the support
that gets me through each day. They're such helpful, caring people;
they could very well be that support. I wonder if they would be. If
they saw my defenses going down, would they be there for me as
friends?
I know they would.
They are such wonderful people. They are. They believe I'm a
wonderful person too. It's a sad thing that not everyone can know
these people and realize how truly wonderful they are. Their presence
in my life comes close to having my family back here with me. I know
my husband and sons will be with me always, but these people are
physically here.
Even if they do argue about healthy foods.

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