A Change of Perspective
What you are about to read is a sad story. It is a story of a woman who impacted my life greatly and forever changed the way I view a homeless person or a drug addict. It is because of her that I have a soft spot for marginalized individuals. If your ministry involves drug addicts, prisoners, battered women, the homeless, etc please contact me. I would like to support your ministry by supplying you with my cards for a minimal price to cover costs.
It was the middle of the night. You were drunk, scared and fleeing a fight with the one taking advantage of you. I unlocked my door and let you in, somehow at the same time you walked into my heart. I guess that door was also open.
Not everyone has been blessed to have a childhood like I had…Your pain started before you were born. It started while your mother was a child. She was wrongfully separated from her own mother, beaten, abused and even more. She was robbed of her mother and drowned her sorrows. Her addictions were passed on to you, and affected you before you were even born. It is my personal belief you were born with an addiction. To me it was easier to accept your addictions as a sickness.
You spoke of waking up with your brother Christmas morning to open presents but all the adults were passed out from drinking. You told me of how you would come home from school to find guests using your bed, doing things that should never have been done in front of a child. You were yelled at, beaten and abused. As you searched for a way to dampen the pain you were introduced to chemical ways of doing that. It may have given you temporary relief but when you became sober it was only worse.
You had a son. You were scared, “I don’t know how to be a mom!” You tried. While still an infant he died. Your demons took over and you drank your sorrows away. You had a nice house filled with furniture and the things that make a home. When you became sober you found yourself sitting in the middle of the living room floor with the entire house stripped of everything you had.
You had one ally, your brother. He understood your pain, he experienced growing up with you. Together you would laugh at funny things that happened and cry at the experiences too dark to be put on paper. Then you lost him, your only and last lifeline. Your world was crushed. The only way you knew how to escape was to drown yourself in alcohol and sometimes things even more destructive. You had another baby, a daughter. She brought much joy to you. You were unable to raise your daughter but every chance you had to be with her I know you took it. Those times were special to you, they put a spark in your eye that other times were missing. You used to walk past my house holding her hand as she toddled down the street beside you. The love between you was obvious. You fought long and hard, looking for ways to try and keep her.
We weren’t neighbors for long. From time to time I would see you in town. When you were sober we would embrace. I would try to encourage you. Then I saw you sober less and less. My heart breaks to remember. No one should be standing on a street corner with all their belongings in a black garbage bag, let alone in the middle of winter. You were drunk. My heart ached. There wasn’t much I could do. I drove to the gas station and bought you a hot coffee hoping it would warm you. Although you were out of it I believe some of that coffee got to your heart and warmed it a touch. That same winter I again saw you on the street. It was your birthday. The memories of missed childhood birthdays pulled you down far. You again tried to escape the pain in the only way you knew how. I wanted to do something, but what? I drove to the store, found a warm soft blanket, and wrapped it for you.
Then your life took another turn. You found out you were pregnant with baby number three! The man who got you pregnant found a cold drafty duplex not far from me. I believe he knew I would look out for you so as to get you off his hands… He dropped you off with your bag of clothes and a queen size mattress without bedding. You knew where I lived and walked to my house and into my heart several layers deeper. You were determined to give your baby the best chance you could give her. Day after day you would come visit because you were tempted to drink. You would come for encouragement and we would pray. More than once you slept on my couch so you wouldn’t drink. One night there was a bad storm, the electricity went out and you were scared. You walked to our house and again spent the night on the couch. You loved to come to our house. You said you could feel an atmosphere of peace that you had never experienced anywhere else. I told you it was because we were Christians, and that evil angels were not permitted to enter. You wanted that in your life as well. Many times I led you in prayer and many times your prayers were answered. Those were happy days. I have pictures to prove it! Your eyes, as well as your mouth, are smiling in many of the pictures I took during that time. When you were seven months pregnant we had a birthday celebration for you. We celebrated your first sober birthday. The pictures show how happy you were.
In due time your baby was born. You called me from the delivery room to tell me you had had a baby girl. You named her Serenity. The definition of Serenity is: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. Her name was the very description of what you experienced while you were pregnant, compared to previous times. You loved her before she was born. I promised I would do everything in my power to help you keep her and raise her. I knew your child was what was giving you the will to live and push on.
While you were still in the hospital from giving birth, I asked for a key for your apartment. I cried as I entered. I soon realized you had nothing to bring your baby home to. I cleaned and scrub your place and made sure there was food in the cupboards. I went home and posted on Facebook that I needed baby items for a friend. I was given a crib and change table. That very day I repaired and painted them. I found a brand new crib set, and bought baskets for baby clothes. I printed a sign for the door asking that no alcohol be brought in the house. Once home I again reached out to my church friends. They rallied, and together we threw a baby shower for you.
You had a friend. He was several years older than you. He too was trying to kick his addictions. He was the one that drove you to your doctor visits. He was the one that brought you and your baby home. You gave him the title of Godfather to your child. He took his role seriously! Often the two of you would come and visit sometimes joining us for a hot meal. Not long after your baby was born he found out he had liver cancer. You were so scared to lose him. One day you called to tell me he only had a short time to live. His family came and took him home with them. My husband and I talked to him on the phone several times. He was always asking about Serenity. Somehow you managed to travel to see him, fulfilling his dying wish that he could hold her for the last time. You took his death hard. You never completely recovered from it. It was yet another knife in your already fragile heart.
You had a doctor. Dr. Haskins was his name. He was a christian man. He saw how hard you were trying. He believed in you and covered the expenses out of his own pocket for you to go to a rehab center for mothers. I thank God for people like him.
For several months you did well with very few stumbles. I accompanied you to a program where you were invited to speak and share your story with other recovering addicts. I was proud of you! Then you moved to another town, and I saw you less and less. You were lonely and the friends you found brought you down. It was deemed unsafe for your child to be with you because of your choices. My heart ached as I witnessed a downhill slide. You called me one day asking me to help fight for custody. It was a hard conversation, one I don’t think you ever forgave me for. I told you I could not lie, that the safest option for your child was with your mother who was already raising your child’s older sister. After that I hardly saw you. My heart hurt. I missed you.
About a year later we moved to the USA. From time to time I would get messages of greetings from you through my family and friends. I was told you had cancer and you were scared. A handful of times my friends helped arrange telephone calls. You always talked of your daughters, cried and told me “Shawna, I love you so much!”. The feelings were mutual, my friend. Not long ago I talked to you for the last time. I believe God arranged it. My parents pulled into a gas station where you happened to be. You saw them and called out to them. They welcomed you into their car and enjoyed a warm conversation with you. Dad dialed my number and handed you his phone. We talked for a long time. You thanked me for praying for you and told me how you pray too.
I knew your life was fragile. I never knew which conversation would be the last. I also knew that one day your daughters, who were your very world, would want to have memories to look back on. I deliberately documented our memories in photographs, with them in mind, a gift to those who mutually love you.
I recently got a message that sadly you had given up your fight. You had overdosed. Your children are in good hands with an adoptive mother that loves them like her own. My heart aches, my friend. I will never regret the times we had. I promise that I will do all I can to encourage women like you whose lives have been compromised. I look forward to seeing you on Resurrection morning. I love you!