Heartbreak Hotel

Dec 22, 2015 | Social Responsibility

Relying on Others is a Form of Generosity

My husband and I met some new friends downtown last weekend, Dave and Tony (not their real names). They were quite the pair. Tony has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. He relies on others for care and was recently evicted. Dave works construction as a day laborer. They met on the streets earlier in the week and already bickered like an old married couple.

For the past several nights the two had been staying at a motel with Dave’s small income, but on Saturday night they didn’t have the money.

My husband and I were just wandering downtown when we hear Tony yelling, “I’m homeless. I have no coat.” They were on their way to their safe-ish sleeping spot for the evening, probably behind a church or parking garage.

It was tough to ignore, and, honestly, I wanted to. I just wanted to wander and disconnect after several long weeks.

They caught up with us and we all stopped to chat. They shared a bit of their story and why they didn’t want to go into the men’s homeless shelter in town. Thankfully, Tony has an apartment lined up, but not for another two weeks.

It’s going to be a very long, cold two weeks.Alley

There are many other details that they shared about their lives with us that I’d like to keep private. But here’s what struck me: their generosity with each other and their reliance on that generosity.

I’m not good about asking for help. At. All.

I think I can do it all myself and this often leads me to moments of utter desperation. As the eldest daughter of mentally ill folk, I took care of too much as a child and didn’t really have anyone to ask for help. As an adult it’s a tough lesson to learn, but I’m working on it. So, I know where it comes from, but it doesn’t make it any easier to do.

For Dave and Tony, they were each giving each other something they needed, even in the hardest of circumstances. For Dave he needed companionship, because homelessness is loneliness. My sense was that taking care of Tony gave him a bit of purpose, a way to right some wrongs in his life. For Tony, he needed someone who could walk and push his wheelchair to survive.

oh God.

Does this break your heart as much as it breaks mine?

As we enter this holiday week, let us be reminded of all those we truly rely on to survive. And all those we fail to acknowledge who need us to survive. The Lord knows we all need each other. We create the illusion that it’s not true.