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Posts Tagged ‘homeless’

I used to count the months that I’ve been unemployed.  Now all I know is that it’s been over two years. 

. . . Once more, I had been inside my home a few days feeling crummy, both physically and emotionally.  Some weeks are like that, some are not.  Literally – finally pushed myself out my front door to walk to my mailbox in my condo complex.  Foggy brained, I was thinking it had been a few days since I checked my mail.   So many months I haven’t felt well.  Along the way on my determined journey to the mail boxes, I saw my neighbor walking her dog.  Her arms looked strong and tan as her dog pulled on her with his excitement of the smells of the great out doors.  We chit chatted, “still unemployed” I heard her say.  “Don’t know how much longer I can keep this up,” she added.   Only us unemployed know what it feels like to be unemployed for a long time during this time with the economy.  “See ya later!” she said as she and her dog took off with long quick purposeful strides.  As I finally approached my mail box, another neighbor was checking his mail as well.

He took one look at me and said, “you’ve really lost some weight.”

“I’ve mentioned to you I’ve been quite under the weather.”  I felt uncomfortable with his comment.

“But that was some time ago wasn’t it?” 

I had no words for his reply.  Too tired.

Slowly, I picked up my mail and closed the box.  As I turned to walk back to my home I suddenly felt, angry, frustrated, tired and sad.  And a new emotion joined in – envy – envious of my neighbor with her strong arms.  I felt frail, weary and isolated. 

This has been a long learning process for me.  Every day an important lesson.  The best thing for me to do is to never give up on striving to regain my health every moment of every hour.  I must keep it simple.  I know many people live with chronic pain.  I know I am not alone – yet I live an isolated life as I attempt to regain my health as I look for employment on-line and send out my resume.  Plus I am starting the footwork to apply for S.S. Disability.  I’d rather get a full life back.  But I must accept where I am at the same time. 

Due to my many food allergies, eating the right foods so I can heal has become another life lesson – one so I may survive.  Get my life back.  Be me again.  The damage to my gut because I carry 2 copies of the gene for an allergy to gluten can feel unbearable at times.  . . . So much so that I asked a friend to take me to the hospital a couple days ago.  I had been in nonstop agony.   I kick into survival mode – hard to think.  . . .When she pulled up in front of the hospital doors, I did not want to go in!  But I did anyway –  I could barely get my self out of her car.  She had to go but she prayed for me – I felt it fill me up immediately.  God is so powerful. . . By the time I got to an E.R. bed a couple of hours had passed and I was on my side curled in a ball from the pain.  Have I ever been in the hospital by my self before?  This is too much.  I tried to focus on the activity around me in the E.R.  I kept thinking about my father.  He is too far away to sit with me.  I noticed a handsome young man was being wheeled in on a stretcher, no shirt, lots of tattoos, a couple of cops walking behind him . . .   Something was administered for my pain.  A few long tests.  Quite a few hours – till the middle of the night.  Think I was there 8 or 10 hours or so. . .

Another young man on another stretcher passes in front of me, more cops walking behind him.  “I wonder what he did wrong?”  I thought to myself.  He was so young and in trouble.

And that was it.  How easily I can forget.  I am a recovering alcoholic.  Health challenges, unemployment, isolation.  The answer is simple – as long as I don’t drink  I won’t make things worse for myself!  And, I have NOT made anything worse for myself.  I’m hanging in there – sometimes I cry and sometimes I am able to laugh – but as long as I don’t make any foolish decisions and keep it simple I will get through this time.  This too shall pass for me and so many others in my same situation.  Chronic health challenges?  Unemployed?  That’s nothing.  As long as I stay sober, then that’s something.  I will pat myself on the back.  I will continue to be a tough Prairie Girl – I will not become homeless.  Hey, but if I do become homeless, I know how to build a pretty nice fire, my father taught me how when I was a kid.

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I continue to find the Web Log Universe to be interesting, captivating and therapeutic. Blogs are a smart and informative world to participate in.  Ordinary people being anything but ordinary as they express their passions through the eyes of their Web Log world.  I am drawn to the eclectic topic choices;  The Arts.  Cooking or Diets.  Humor or Sadness.  Love or Romance.  Family or Kids.  Dogs or Cats.  Cocktail parties or Alkies. You name it, we are all here.  It is as if our computers transform into a magic carpet ride that delivers us to any place or topic that catches our curiosity or passions.  Personally, creating my blog has especially been therapeutic during this long year of the unknown, unemployment and endless attempts and appointments to solve my chronic pain and health challenges. 

The other afternoon as I sat in my home and read the local newspaper and sipped a cup of some good fresh coffee,  I came across an article about the homeless shelter and their donation wish list.   To be honest I wasn’t up to it at all, but I pushed myself out the door.  First stopped at the store.  Then parked in front of the shelter.  I was greeted by two gracious young men who helped me bring in my donations of a couple of pounds of coffee, creamers, plastic spoons and plastic cups.  I walked around a bit to get a feel of the place and when I was finished, I went straight back to my home and crash landed on my couch.

Early the next morning, I slowly found my way down stairs and attempted to shake off the cob webs.  I then looked out my sliding glass door to check the early morning temperature.  A creative and positive thought came to me – I grabbed my Blackberry to take a picture of my thermometer as it hit the “freezing” mark.  32 degrees in Santa Clarita, California? Burrr!  With the simple click of my camera, I fade from my usual sadness of isolation to my humble gratefulness for my warm home.   A quiet blessing fills my heart as I take the picture for my blog proving how cold it is outside.

I pressed “send” and as I wait a moment for the picture to drop into my lap top – I navigated to my blog where I was able to enjoy a lovely surprise when I receive a comment under my latest post. I appreciate the feeling of connecting as I check my blog stats and see I have many people who keep on visiting and reading every day.  It helps me feel as though I am not so alone here on my deserted island and that I am not totally isolated here wasting my time – I know that getting well is not time wasted – but it is easy for me to forget, as it has been an odd year full of life lesson after  life lesson.

It is an interesting world right now as well as an odd time with the economy where my ill-health, unemployment and feeling lonely, actually makes me one of the lucky ones.  Not only am I maintaining my sobriety during this time, I do not find myself in the position of standing in line with a back pack and a shivering body as I wait to get into a homeless shelter.  The thing is though, I felt hope in this shelter when I dropped off my items.  Hope.

I stand inside my home and look through my sliding glass door, a couple of inches away, my thermometer  informs me it is literally freezing outside – 32 degrees.  I am one of the lucky ones, but not because I have a roof over my head and I am warm.  But because I am still feeling hope this morning.  It had been with me ever since I was at that shelter.  People with hope are the lucky ones.

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Dear friends, I’m compelled to share a special post I wrote one year ago this month:

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”.

“You do?”

“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.

“I understand.”

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.

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I admit I have been doing more than my fair share of reflection since I received a frightening konk on my head last week.  “Hey, please pass the compassion?”  And what I mean by “reflection” is “thinking and thinking over and over” about how the heck this freak chain reaction happened.  Not only where the chain reaction started in my home, but in the emergency room and later at the drug store too.  The spot in my mind where I find myself stop as I once more go back to observe the falling dominoes, is when I was slowly and carefully walking to the entrance of the CVS drugstore.  It is the thoughts that I had during those few moments that I completely stop and reflect.  I distinctly remember my thoughts uncontrollably flying through me at that moment. . . .

While I was slowly getting out of my car, I took a quick look at myself in my rear-view mirror to access my “brain damage” and saw the nasty gash and the blood still in my hair.  The memory of the unpleasant experience in the emergency room still lingering as the resentment grew.  I felt light-headed and stunned.  As I proceeded to the doors of the drug store, I felt as if I was carefully walking the plank on an old pirate ship.  I looked down, trying to keep my balance as I watched the sharks circle below me and noticed one of them was grinning.  I am a strong swimmer I thought, but the blood in my hair and the gash on my forehead will attract the sharks to me in an instant.  Just before I was about to safely grab onto the door handle to the drug store entrance – I began to fantasize what my drink of choice would be – if I was still drinking just what would I want?  This pirate ship I was on was reeking of a strong good brandy.  The familiar odor heading towards my throbbing brain as if a small sharp knife had just been expertly thrown at me with a great spinning force and perfect aim.  Would I like to have a slug of a pirate’s fine brandy?  Yes?  No?  I felt so tired, resentful and lonely plus anger was coming on.  I still have not had my morning coffee.  So I decided, if I could have a drink, I would like to order a big cup of good fresh coffee with 2 shots of Baily’s Irish Cream and 2 shots of the pirate’s brandy.  That’s it!  That would be perfect.  So, so, perfect.  If I could, I would like that drink! I can feel it now.  Lovely.  Relaxing. Hot. Soothing. Filling the loneliness.  My perfect escape to the safety of my own dry land.  The plank magically elongated as I kept my balance.  I did not fall into the shark infested waters.  As I safely stepped off of the plank and into the drug store, I had to squint my throbbing eyes to protect them from the glaring flourescent lighting.  Back to reality.  Lonely and literally painful reality.  One thing I have come to notice through my continued sober years, is that I rarely do get lonely now.  But loneliness and drinking and drunkenness used to go hand in hand with me.  I remember that was the old me.  It took a long time to realize I was trying to fill a void. Plus I have an allergy of the body and obsession of the mind and it took me a long time to learn just why I chose to drink.  The 23 years since my last drink is not what keeps me alcohol free today – what I do today is what keeps me free of that first drink – not what I did yesterday.  Yes, I was a drinking alcoholic many years ago – but it is today and every day that I am still an alcoholic – but a sober alcoholic.  A free alcoholic. This allergy to alcohol that I have in my body will not go away, ever.  But with daily work, guidance, willingness and honesty, it is possible to be free of the obsession and free of negative thoughts most of the time. Thank God I understand AND accept that alcoholism is a disease of the mind, body and spirit.  And in that moment, alone on the plank, somehow I had separated myself from my mind and my body.  Luckily though, I had just enough of a glimmer of a spirit left in me, some where, some how, to take care of myself no matter what.  I returned home safe and sober where Grace the magic, sweet, joyful kitten was waiting for me with the loudest purring on earth.  I got to clean up and start that day over, at least to the best of my ability, even with a throbbing brain and sad tired spirit.  The only difference was that I had two butterfly band-aids on my forehead.  I will heal.  I will continue to heal in all areas.  I was a lucky wench early in the morning when a freak chain reaction momentarily landed my soul upon the plank on that pirate ship.  But I kept my balance one more time.  Thank you God, for with you, I have a chance, and with you, I am never ever really alone am I?

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Even though this morning feels like long ago, now that I am tired and darkness has fallen on the day, I am finding myself quite full of left over resentment, hurt pride and disappointment.   Simply put, right now I’m sad.  Yes. I would say that sadness covers it pretty well . . . and disappointment.  Yes.  Disappointment.

I had a freak accident before I even got out of the twin bed on my loft this morning.  How is such a thing even possible?!  I am still putting the puzzle together like a crime detective.  I have the 3 see-no-evil monkeys on my wall on 3 small shelves.  They are next to my bed. (Please note: next to my bed and not above my bedI was raised in earthquake country in California – I never hang anything above my bed).

As I was still asleep this morning, one of my pillows was buggin’ me, in my slumber, I must have felt it would be best just to give it a toss.  Some how in that motion the pillow nudged the hanging vine, which nudged the small shelf next to my bed that holds the third 8″ wooden carved hear-no-evil monkey, which in turn made the wooden monkey silently slide off  the shelf.  My head was now resting “perfectly” on the very upper left hand corner of the bed, and as my eyes were still closed, the hear-no-evil monkey fell in a slight arch formation and gave me a hard conk on my left temple as if it was a coconut falling out of a palm tree.  I saw stars as if I had just entered a cartoon horror clip.  I had no idea who or what hit me.  It was shockingly agonizing.  Was an intruder in my home trying to knock me out? Deep confusion mixed with fear.  For the next endless split second I froze and could not breathe.  Unfamiliar movement across my forehead grabbed my full attention.  I reacted by quickly sitting up.  Blood started to  stream down my face as it poured all over me and my bed.  (All this before my morning cup of coffee?)  I found my way down stairs, went to the kitchen, grabbed  paper towels and held them to my forehead while I pulled my jeans on with my free hand.  The hospital is just down the street and I managed to drive myself there.  My blonde hair had turned red where the gash was and  needless to say, I was still in my yucky bloody T-shirt. 

Right now I just can not wrap my brain around the disorganization from the uncaring and unaware employees that I had to deal with at the emergency room hospital.  And that lack of compassion began with the 2 valet guys not even looking up when I pulled into emergency parking, I waited a moment as they were still focused on what they were reading at their station. Furious and dizzy – I slowly drove ahead and parked my car myself in the valet parking spot.  They watched me walk past them as I held my wound with my paper towels. 

I was not looking well or feeling well as I carefully walked into the emergency room.  The woman working inside the emergency room door looked blankly at me and said,

“Are you here to see a doctor?”

I became my father’s daughter and replied,   “Did the blood all over me give you a hint?”

As I waited, the crowded emergency room started to give me a stuffy yucky feeling and I could tell I was surrounded by horribly ill people.  Was it freakin’ flu season?An old tired woman next to me, got on her cell phone and started to yell at the poor person on the other end.  Her loud voice hurt my ears and my head started to pound even more. I noticed empty water cups, crumpled paper towels, scattered newspapers and coffee cups all around me.  Claustrophobia covered me like plastic clear sandwich wrap over my head and face as I once more watched the two people who were “working” the front desk sitting and chitt-chatting with each other as they disregarded all of us packed in the littered and stuffy emergency room.  An hour later as I started to finally realize the seriousness of my situation, and with the now dried  blood on my face and in my hair and shirt, I slowly got out of my chair and made my way to the bathroom where I decided to scrub up.  I was stunned and caught off guard when I saw my horrid reflection in the mirror.  Standing at their bathroom sink using soap and water, I proceeded to clean up but I couldn’t get the blood out of my hair because it had stained my bleached blonde highlights.  Sadly that place felt so wrong to me.  Clutter everywhere – no compassion anywhere.  And with that, as I was walking out of that sorry place, I told the two employees who were STILL talking with each other as they sat at the desk, I was getting the heck out of there.  Speaking loud and clear like my father would have, I said, “By the way, I’ve gotten better customer service and attention at Target down the street!”  They both looked up at me and told me I should tell a nurse I was leaving.  I reminded them that they had my name and to do it for me because they looked like they had the time and I was leaving to take care of my wound somewhere else.

My anger and frustration motivated me.  Survival mode had kicked in and I was upset with my self that I sat there waiting for so long.  But later, I realized I was still stunned from the freak accident that had happened while I was sleeping.  Heck!  I’m not even a morning person – especially without coffee. 

So I drove straight across the street to the pharmacy.  I was looking like an injured homeless person, but driving a nice clean car.  I managed to find the first aid aisle and then I bought myself a box of butterfly band-aids and the guy working there said to me, “You have a great day now.”  I swear he was serious!  He did not even look up at me.  So did he even see the gash on my forehead and the blood on me?  I don’t think so.  Another odd moment in my morning.  Who cares if I looked like a bloody messy homeless person?  Offering a little compassion never hurts – only helps.

As I went into the pharmacy bathroom to put the special band aids for cuts on my temple – I surrendered to the fact that only I was going to help myself – no one else.  Quite often that is the reality of life.  That is why I always ask God for care and strength and to show me the way every day. I cleaned my self up in the 2nd public bathroom of the morning and I took care of my wound all on my own and it only cost me $3.19.  The two butterfly band aids seem to be just fine.  Again – I took care of myself.  I am responsible.  And I will heal.  The thing is – I did feel really lonely and separate – but not because I was home alone when this all happened. I felt alone because I was in two places of business – an emergency room and a pharmacy – and compassion was nowhere to be found.  That left me feeling lonely as well as greatly disappointed. 

As I slowly walked through that parking lot and carefully got back in my car, I made a decision that I need to do something to be a part of this community I live in.  I will continue to be one of the caring and kind people, not one of the unaware and uncaring people. . . .  Interestingly enough, at that moment a van drove right past me, it had big letters that said, “Food Pantry”.  Wow, that was a fast hint.  Is that what I need to check out?  The Food Pantry?  Is that a good place to sprinkle some compassion? 

When I got back home I made a much needed cup of hot coffee, put on clean clothes and tossed the bloody clothes and sheets in the washing machine.  I sat down at my desk. I felt like writing.  My on going list of things I want to do or find out about was sitting in front of me.  Written on a piece of paper under this list it said in my handwriting, “Food Pantry” with a phone number.  I had forgotten that I wanted to find out more about this place so I could help out and be a positive part of the community.  Yes indeed, I can take a hint, I’ll check out the Food Pantry and see if I can start to help sprinkle a little compassion around this place.

 

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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”. 

“You do?”

“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.

“I understand.”

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.

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