On Thursday morning, I was heading out the front door for my early morning walk…only to be stopped in my tracks as I looked across the street.
Directly in front of our home was a baby stroller, a baby bottle and something else. At first I couldn’t tell if someone had dumped a big bag of trash or what it was.
I immediately turned around walked into the living room and called out to my husband Chris who had fallen back asleep in his chair. “Chris, wake up…I need you to come out here with me!” Chris normally doesn’t wake up really quick…but I guess after being startled he jumped out of his chair and followed me out on the front porch.
I pointed across the street and asked, “What is that? Is it a dead body or is that someone sleeping on the sidewalk?”
I don’t remember if Chris answered…but I head across the street to find out.
I approached the person cautiously. I looked down on the bundle of blankets and saw a woman’s brown hair. I couldn’t tell if there was a baby bundled up with her or not. I didn’t know if she was dead or alive.
I said, “Sweetheart, what’s going on here?”
The person in the blanket stirred quickly and was looking up at me. It was a middle aged woman, obviously homeless and she had slept on the street overnight. When I asked her again what was going on she said that her husband had punched her in the face and she had left home. I asked her when that had happened and she said it was over a year ago and since then she has been living out of her car.
What do you say to that? I don’t remember what I said, but she kept on talking.
She went on to tell me that she lives in her car and usually parks her car on a street behind Home Depot. But there was the crazy guy named Curt whom she was hanging out with. Now he was talking about torturing her and killing her and she was frightened.
As she was talking I was trying to access her and the situation and what I should do. Part of me thought I should go inside and call the police.
Instead I went inside to get her something to eat and drink brought it out to her. When I gave her the food I asked her what her name was. She responded, “My name is Sue.”
“Sue, I’ve to got go, but before I leave let me pray for you.” So I held Sue’s hand and I prayed for her. While I was praying she asked me to pray for Curt too. When I finished Sue thanked me for the breakfast and prayer.
I then went on my walk and saw Sue get up and head down the street wrapped in her blanket.
The next morning I found a container and a magazine sitting on the lamppost by our walkway. In the container was a note from homeless Sue in which she thanked me again and asked me to pray her children and herself. Sue said that another neighbor, whom she had encountered while he walked his dog, came and jump started her car so she could drive.
Like most folks these days…the reality of homelessness is something that I see every day. Be it a person sleeping at a bus stop or someone asking for money outside a store. Sometimes I’ll buy them something to eat. More often than not won’t give money because I don’t want them using it for alcohol or drugs.
While I can drive by the person pushing a shopping cart down the street or the person sleeping at a bus stop…I couldn’t walk by or drive by what I encountered on Thursday morning.
While I was talking with Sue…a number of our neighbors drove by and didn’t bother to slow down. If for no other reason than concern for the neighborhood, I would think they would stop to see what was happening. That bothered me that my neighbors didn’t stop…it really bothered me.
I don’t know if what all Sue said was true or real, but I do know that I couldn’t just pass her by. I couldn’t pretend like I didn’t see her. She must feel invisible some days as people do everything they can to avoid eye contact…for fear they may have to get involved.