Her name’s Blossom.
I pray every night before I go to bed. My prayers are private conversations between me and God. A chance for me to lay out my fears, make requests for the people I care about in my life, ask for the world to change, and request His favor.
Last night, I prayed like I had many nights before. “Keep my parents safe.” “Help me do Your will.” “Let this world find peace.”
And then I added in this, “Lord, help me help someone else.”
Things have gotten out of hand for me. I’ve never been very materialistic. When I look back at the last six months of my life, though, my saying that is probably hard to believe.
I drive a brand new car. I live on the 19th story of a high rise on the water. I spent two hours of my day yesterday getting the new iPhone, because I HAD to have it on its launch day. I have a new wardrobe of designer clothes thanks to not having enough to do this summer and plenty of time to spend on a little website called RueLaLa.
I’ve become really good at looking out for me. I’m taken care of. I’ve become really bad, however, at doing what I used to love: Taking care of others.
And so, when I realized this last night, I prayed. I prayed for God to give me a chance. And as I explained earlier this summer, I hope that the one thing people see when they look at my life, is that God has always been so faithful to me. He faithfully answered my prayer this morning. And in doing so, He gave me more than a chance.
On the weekends, the first thing I do in the morning is hit the pavement for a nice, long run. This morning, I ran through a neighborhood of Miami known as The Roads. As I wound back to my house, I passed a large Catholic church that I’ve run by hundreds of times before. This time, though, tucked away on the grass next to the steps leading to the church was a woman lying face down sleeping. Her clothes were dirty and battered. There were large holes in her jeans. Other than the clothes on her body, the one thing I noticed was that she had nothing. I saw no bags surrounding her. No items of her own, except for literally what was on her body.
I was about .25 miles from my house. However, I knew what I needed to do. I began running the other direction–the way I came–and to the Publix. I bought groceries like peanut butter and Ritz crackers and those tuna salad packs my roommate used to always take to work. I grabbed toothpaste and a toothbrush and deodorant and Tums. I threw in some bottles of water and fruit snacks and when the lady rang me up, I got some cash back, because who knew if she was going to like any of this?
And then I began my walk back. And with each step I took, I thought about the blessings in my life. The two parents He gave me that would do anything for me. The friends I can call on at any hour of the day. The job I not only love, but that pays my bills. The brain He gave me that has helped me achieve my dreams. The able body rid largely of sickness. And with those steps, I realized that in those things alone, I have enough. I don’t need fancy clothes. I don’t need the latest technology. I don’t need the glamorous jewels. In these things alone, my life is fulfilled.
As I turned the corner to the church, I looked toward the sidewalk where she was lying before and didn’t see her. I briefly panicked, thinking I missed my chance to help her. However, as I scanned the church further, I realized she was awake and sitting on the steps.
I held my breath and got nervous for a moment. What was I going to say? What if she rejected my help? What if she thought I was rude?
I watched two people walk towards her and up the steps and into the church without looking at her, lest so much as saying anything to her. And then, I knew it was my time.
So, I approached with my green Publix bags. And I said the most obvious first thing, “Hello!” And she said, “Hello.” And I sat down on the steps with her. And I said, “I saw you sleeping when I ran by earlier. And I thought maybe you could use some things. So I went to Publix and got you some stuff I thought you might like. And if you don’t, there’s $40 in there so you can buy what you want haha.”
And she looked at me and said, “God bless you. Thank you.”
And I looked at her and said, “What’s your name?”
“Where do you stay, Blossom?”
“Usually I stay in a room off of 10th, but I’ve run out of money. My husband was killed by a drunk driver five years ago.”
“Is that when you became homeless?”
“Yea. My babies were in the car, too. They died. The drunk driver took everything from me. He took my life. I woke up in a hospital six months later. I had been asleep for six months. And when I woke up, I had nothing.”
As she told me this, she showed me the scars on her face and arms from the accident. Blossom was the only member of her family to “live” after the accident. But if you asked her, she might say that her light was stripped from her that day.
I did what I usually do when I’m about ready to cry but don’t want to. I scrunched up my nose, raised my forehead and looked up.
She, though, went on.
“I was a nurse. I had a good job. We had money. But my head was messed up after my life was taken from me. I couldn’t do anything. And so I didn’t work. And then I lost my Green Card. And now, there’s no one to take care of this old Jamaican woman. I have nobody. No family. No one.”
I collected myself and looked at her. “You have me, Blossom. I’m going to look after you. I’ll make sure that you always have something to eat. And we are going to work on getting you a place to stay.”
So often, I think as society, we are quick to label homeless people. Lazy. Drug addicts. Drunks. Criminals. Wastes.
Blossom doesn’t fit any of those stereotypes.
Her name’s Blossom.
And she’s my friend.