Awhile back, me and my son took food we had leftover from the park to the alleyway. Since people have been kicked out of the underpass by the skate park, they have set up a make shift camp in the alley. This is where I met him for the first time. He emerged from his tent with a big smile and greeted me with much excitement. We gave him some food, talked for a while and then he said that if there was anything left he would take it and make sure anyone who needed to eat would get it. He was coherent, engaging and seemed to be doing alright for someone living on the streets. He explained that he doesn’t come down to the park, as well as some of the others, because they don’t want to leave their things for someone to take while they are gone
Well that has been a little over a month ago and today he shows up at the park. A completely different man than what I encountered earlier. When he first got there he said he needed to talk to me, said he remembered me coming to the alley and taking time to talk to him and now he needed someone to talk too. I don’t want to take to much of your time he said, but you listened to me and I remember that and was hoping you would talk to me again.
So when we got everyone fed, he came over and we talked, but my heart broke for this man and it took everything I had to not breakdown and cry. He told me that he had an accident at one point in time and ever since he has had some mental issues. He has dealt with it by self medicating. He has been using drugs to deal with what ever is going on in head and for him it was working. I don’t condone this, but for someone who has no insurance and no other means of getting help….this is what they do, they self medicate and….it was helping in someway.
He explained that he had just gotten out of jail and had been in for over thirty days. He was proud of the fact that he has been sober for so many days and was insistent on staying that way. He said that when in jail he was given meds to help with what ever mental issues he was experiencing and they helped, but when he was released they basically opened the door and said GO! Released with no place to go, but back to the streets. No meds to help him until he could maybe find some help. Discarded like a piece of trash out onto the streets. As he stood there talking to me his body was racked with pain. He was going thru withdrawals. Fists clinched, every muscle in his body just tense and you could see pain all over his face. But through it all he held on to hope that he could stay sober and get through this. I held back tears, I felt so sorry for this man and so badly wanted to take away his pain. I held him a few times and each time you could feel is body ease up, so much wanted to hold on to him forever.
He asked if I would come by the alley and talk to him. He was telling me about a book he was writing his thoughts down in and wanted to share them with me. I said I would be by and we could talk more. As he left many things started to go thru my mind….how long will he be able to hold on before going back to self medicating, where is the help for those who do not have means to help themselves and most of all why are we discarding people as if they are trash?
The first time I met this man, it was only for a brief moment, but in that brief moment I gave him my time and attention. It maybe a half hour out of my life, but it was something he remembered and sought out again. He was looking for someone to share is feelings with, someone to share his pain with and someone to share his hope of sobriety with. He remembered that I saw him as a human being, a precious child of God, a man who had worth and value. The world has deemed him unworthy and has thrown him out with the trash. We need to stop and take a closer look at what we regard as useless. We need to take time out of our busy lives and spend a little time with others, wether it be the homeless, the elderly, the sick, your co-workers, who ever it maybe. We need to let people know how precious they are. A few minutes of your time will not take away from your life, if anything it will bring a blessing not just to you, but to whom you chose to share it with. A minute of your time and a few kind words can change someone’s world and yours.