Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Random Acts...

She walked slowly between the cars holding up her cardboard sign, "Homeless. Struggling to get by. Need help." She looked ashamed, wouldn't meet anyone's gaze as she wandered down the aisle made by the idling cars at the stoplight. This isn't going to be a happy bouncy post. It's one that is hitting very close to home right now.

You know as "humans" we tend to avoid their gaze, think, "Oh, they should just go to the shelter and get out of my line of sight." Because, that's what it is, no one wants to look because then they might be reminded... "That could be me."

As she walked past our van window, desperately trying to avoid eye contact with us, my husband made the comment. "God, babe, she's younger than you!" I know. And the light changed and we drove on toward home. We had four tired kids in the car and hubs had to work early in the morning. But, my stomach roiled and clenched all the way.

We got halfway home from where we had seen this young woman when my hubby turned to me and said, "Are you alright?" At first I thought he was referring to the dry raspy cough I'd been fighting all weekend.

"I just don't feel well." But I knew he didn't believe me.

"You're thinking about her." And I was. Something about her just called me back to her. The further we got from her, the more nausea I felt.

"We have to go back and see what we can do for her." It didn't matter to me, I had to find out what happened, if she needed help, if there was anything I could do. She was so young! If it hadn't been for the love and support of my family I could have been in the same position... except with a baby. My hubby, knowing about my past, and knowing the kind of person I am flipped a u-turn immediately and we went back.

She was still at the intersection, and seemed a bit leary coming over to where we were parked to talk to us. Can't say as I blame her, she had no idea who we were. But I had a strong urging that we NEEDED to do something. Talking with her we found out that she was staying in an alley behind an ice cream parlor and the two other homeless people who lived there as well did their best to take care of her, but she was still alone.

We took her to the Neighborhood WalMart across the street from where she was panhandling. I went in with her and wanted to cry when she only asked for a couple Cup A Soups and a bottle of water. I convinced her that she could get more than that so I loaded a box of 12 Cup A Soups (she said it was easier, as the ice cream parlor let her use their microwave), then a pack of water and some lemonade. I knew it still wouldn't be enough, but I didn't want to harm her pride. I convinced her that she could get granola bars and cereal bars as well. When I told her to toss a hairbrush in she asked if she could get some deodorant and some face wash cloths. I wasn't worried about the money, our kids can go without McDonald's and such for a couple of weeks, but it was worth it.

She talked with me while we were in the store and I learned her story was so sad, and yet how many people have family that won't help in these kinds of circumstances saying they're teaching you a lesson in survival. Makes no bloody sense to me.

Anyway, I took some cash out of our account along with the groceries and transferred her groceries to her "spot". We stood outside the van asking her if she was okay, if there was anything else we could do. She told us that she'd been burned before and if we were serious about being in her life and helping, then she would take our phone numbers and call us once she could.

The hardest part about it is that she wants to find a job, but she has no address for reference, no phone number to reach her, and her appearance isn't the best due to living on the streets for so long. It's a lose-lose situation.

As we dropped her off, she told us, "You know, I was despairing tonight. No one was stopping no one was looking at me and I thought: I need a miracle, or else I don't know when I'll get to eat again!

I don't know that we were her miracle or if we were just following the promptings of that still small voice. Either way, she is still on my mind tonight and I hope she calls. While we didnt feel great leaving her in her circumstance, there wasn't much choice. But I hope that our Random Act of Kindness can get her through the next few days at least, maybe longer considering we gave her some cash as well.

Please, don't call me sappy for hoping she can get her life together. Don't tell me she'll just using it to get alcohol or drugs. I trust my instincts and I am in no danger from her and she is rather adament about drug an alcohol use.

Do you think we should keep our eyes out for Random Acts we can do? I'm a pretty strong believer in that. Just thought I would share with y'all since it's been weighing heavily on me today. Ahem...that's wha I wanted to talk about.

1 comment:

Cari Quinn said...

I have tears in my eyes, Kealie, after reading your post. What that poor woman must be going through, and what strength of character it took for you and your husband to turn and go back to her. I often think about the homeless people I see, but I keep driving. I don't have enough nerve to approach them and try to help, but thank God (or your deity of choice) for people like you. Seriously. You were her miracle, and what an amazing example you're setting for your kids.

I don't think you're sappy. I think you're hopeful. Isn't that why we write? To give ourselves and our readers hope? I'm hoping for her, too.