Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hello. Just call me Happy

Day 2
The Twelve Days of Christmas at the DI

He doesn't want to fill out a Christmas Wishlist form. "I don't need anything," he says. "I have everything I need, right here." His arms sweep out to encompass the large room around him, like a delicate bird fluttering its wings.

He is a small man. Wiry. Always moving. His fingertips touch when he talks. Flutter in the air. He nods his head. Constant motion like a brook burbling cheerfully through the forest. He is sitting on the second floor of the shelter. A happy man amongst almost a thousand other men and women, most of whom do not share his sunny outlook, but who do share a common theme in their lives; homelessness.

"Life is good," he smiles. "Yes. Life is good."

His nickname is Happy. "My mother, she called me Happy," he said once. "I think she didn't want me to be sad."

He was sad once. Really sad. He had a wife. A child. A family. A home. They took his child from him. Kidnapped her, he said. He didn't understand. Now he does. He has a mental illness that took away all that he loved. All that he held dear.

Now, many years later, he has found contentment. His needs are simple. His wants are few.

He needs community. People around him. Food. Shelter. People to share his smiles. He needs his meds to keep him walking comfortably along the paths and byways of this life he's come to know as his own, in spite of his scarcity. In spite of his homelessness.

His real name is Zahir. He comes from another country. Many years ago. Today, he calls the shelter home. He looks upon the people who serve him and who live with him as, his family, his community.

What does he ask for this Christmas? To be safe. To be well. To not, as he calls it, have 'the bug's' buzzing in his head.

We can give him his wish this Christmas. His wish is simple to fulfill.

What he gives us is so much more.

Smiles. And laughter. Stories. A sense of joy. A sense of wonder. For Zahir, the world is a place of wonder, sometimes mixed with the fear he will die alone. He will not be found on time. As long as he has a place to call home at the shelter, his fear recedes and he becomes who he wants to be, who he likes to be, 'Happy'.

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