Last night while I finished sending yet another on-line job application, by 5:00pm I had a sore back, killer headache, tired eyes and a starving belly. Enough! I jumped up, ran down the stairs, grabbed my purse and hopped in my car – finally! I found myself driving due west about 45 miles on Hwy 126. I knew just what I needed to pull myself out of my martyr funk: a burger and the ocean. It was a sunny gorgeous late afternoon. As I flew through the open land, past hills, tree farms and fruit stands, my senses were filling back up. I rolled down my windows and allowed the wind to give me a blast as I deeply inhaled the pure cold oxygen. It woke me up and blew the cobwebs right off of me. An awesome moment. In California, on a picture perfect day all can change just one block from the ocean. As I drove down a street with the beach only a few yards away, the bright sunshine and warmth was lost as a thick wet fog oozed onto the sand. It struck me as being astoundingly beautiful and perfect. I was in awe of my nature filled moment. The authenticity and balance that I longed for, suddenly engulfed my being. I walked in strong long strides on the moist sand as I was acutely aware of every stone, rock and string of seaweed. My hands grew cold and my hair instantly began to get fuzzy and curl in a spot or two. Awesome! I was no longer being held hostage as the cold pure ocean air made me feel incredibly alive and joyful. I looked out to the horizon towards the invisible sunset. I knew it was there, the exquisite golden sun setting on the deep blue ocean – it was irrelevant that I could not see it before me. I still was able to feel its presence as I looked out to the waves and the light gray horizon. I had no expectations as to what I would find upon my arrival, so I accepted everything just as the way it was. Perfection.
Next stop – hamburger! When I placed my order to go, I noticed a man as he picked up his order and held his bag of food close to his chest like a football. He walked with a slight limp towards the double doors to leave. He was quite dirty in his old and worn dark shorts and navy blue T-shirt, his hair messy and curly and pulled back in a short pony tail that was being held with a black rubber band that was somehow tangled in his hair. He had smudges of dirt on his legs, his tennis shoes were filthy. I was fixated on him as I watched him slowly walk through the parking lot. I paid for my burger, walked back to my car, and felt the night air had turn even colder. As I placed my burger in a bag next to me, I thought, perhaps the man was younger than me, I could not tell for sure. I watched him walk out of my line of vision. The cold night air reminded me that I had a nice thick clean light blue beach towel in my trunk. I wished I had given it to the man. I felt I had allowed a moment to pass me by. While I started to back my car out of my parking spot, I saw the homeless man appear in my rear view mirror. Apparently he had decided to turn around and walk back down the side-walk in the other direction. He was confused. I seized my moment and I suddenly stopped and jumped out of my car. “Sir!” I yelled to the unsuspecting man. He looked towards me and stopped. “I don’t know where you are staying or what you might need, but, if you would allow me, I’d like to offer you something I happen to have in my trunk.” As I spoke to him, I pulled out the big thick clean light blue towel, and with his permission, I wrapped it around his shoulders as he still held tight to his burger in a bag. He looked me right in my eyes and said, “God bless you”. I started to rub his back over the new towel in an attempt to warm him up a little. He looked at me with his sad, deeply set, dark eyes as the misty fog covered us both.
“God bless you.” He said once more.
I could feel his sad spirit seep through the light blue towel as I continued to rub his back. I smelled the familiar odor of old alcohol. He is an alcoholic – just like me.
He looked at me again through his tired dark sadness. I was unaffected by it. Leaving my arm around his weary shoulders, I explained, “You see – I have a brother who is just like you”.
“Yes I do. . . . He disappeared on the streets 23 years ago and I do not know where he is or what happened to him.”
I could tell the man was slightly drunk, yet he was being extremely polite to me. He looked right at me again, thinking. He then sighed and said something no one has ever said to me in the 23 years since my brother Ryan disappeared.
My heart reacted by starting to grow a new warmth and purity as he thanked me again. I watched him turn and walk away. I stood there overcome and surprised by the gratitude that overflowed in my heart when he said those two words to me. Was my inner searching for my brother finally over? I did not feel sad. I did not shed one tear. This was an unexpected overwhelming blessing of a gift. I’ve never heard the words before.
Perhaps, just maybe, after years of seeking and never giving up, I have been granted a reprieve from not knowing the demise of my brother. Years of work preparing me to understand. I am overwhelmed with gratitude from this moment. The magnitude of its significance still grows within me from hour to hour. Yes, I finally met someone who looked me in the eye and said that they understood. Priceless.