Monday, December 22, 2008
As many of us in helping professions know, the holidays are not a happy time for everyone. In fact, for many people, the holidays are a time of stress, business, frustration and sadness. Society places great pressure on people to be happy and joyful while having the perfect holiday with family and friends. Unfortunately for most people this just isn't the case.
Friday night at street ministry, I was tired, stressed and fed up with the entire Christmas season (one week till my holidays)! I couldn't handle the kitchen, so I was happy to sit down with some of our guest and eat dinner. As I've talked about before, I see many of the same people at street ministry as at work, and these two were regulars in both the shelter in the drunk tank.
Deena is a woman who is probably only in her 40s. She looks like she's seventy and is now wheelchair bound. A while back she had to have her head shaved due to a bad lice infestation and she's a very small woman. Despite the fact that I see her on an almost daily basis, she isn't someone I've ever had a good talk with, and I really don't know much about her story. So we sat, and ate and talked, and as we talked, tears slowly began to drip down her face.
Deena has never known much of her family. She was adopted out to a white family and lost contact with her biological family. She has never been able to have a "family christmas". The one relative she was able to remain in contact with her brother, is now gone. Not only is he gone, but he was shot dead over the holiday season a number of years ago. After telling me this, she stops talking. Her boyfriend explains that those who were responsible for his death got out of jail recently, making things all the harder.
More then anything, Deena wants to spend a Christmas for her family, something that is now impossible. Oh, and she's dying she says, they've found cancer, and she doesn't know how long she'll live. This is secondary to the Christmas thing. She knows her body doesn't have much left in it, a life of living on the streets and in shelters while consuming copious amounts of alcohol just doesn't lead to good health. The good news though, she thinks she and her boyfriend have an apartment for the new year!