Burdened

As I was driving home yesterday in the rain I sensed this heaviness in the air around me, it was overwhelming to say the least.

As I stopped at an intersection I noticed a young girl crouched down on the side of the road holding a sign. She was begging for money, she was homeless. I opened my window and handed her a ten dollar bill. As she approached my vehicle I could see that she was very young, maybe 16 or 17 and visibly high on heroin. Heroin addicts have a very distinct look about them. I looked into her eyes and saw emptiness. Her eyes were vacant.

After handing her the money, I drove off feeling as if I hadn’t really done anything to help. I wracked my brain trying to find a solution. The cynics argue that she made her choices and until she’s ready to get help,there’s nothing anyone can do. Yes, that’s partially true. She won’t actually be free from the grips of her addiction until she makes a conscious choice to stop and do whatever it takes to take back her life. But still…why did she start? What pain is she trying to numb? What wounded her to such a degree that she chose a life of slow, death, probably prostitution and homelessness? I wondered to myself how her story might end, or if she might turn up dead in some seedy motel room, alone.

My heart began to ache. The dull ache became a deep stab that radiated through my body. What can I do? I considered turning around and hanging out with her for a while, grabbing fast food and sharing a meal with her, but I had to get home to my son as I’d already been out for longer than I’d anticipated.

The burden remained throughout the day. Her pale, sullen face, the thin red hoodie pulled over her head as if it were a desperate attempt to hide her shame. I felt as if I failed her in some ways just another person in her life who’d let her down and left her alone, once again with the wolves. She’s not just another statistic, no damn it! She’s a human being, born with the same potential as the rest of us. Who will fight for her? Who will see her value, her worth and reveal it to her before it’s too late.

I missed an opportunity, and now I’m haunted by her eyes. And deep regret.

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