The Twelve Days of Christmas at the DI
I hadn't seen her for awhile. Not an unusual circumstance at the shelter. People come. They go. To rehab. To other shelters. Home. The street. To friends. To prison. A hotel for a few nights when the cheques come in. It is a fluid place, the shelter. Like the tide. Constantly flowing. In. Out. Ebb. Flow. Constantly carrying people from one place to the next. In. Out. Ebb. Flow.
She'd been gone for awhile. I hadn't known where but there she was a few weeks ago at the memorial service for a staff member who had passed away. She stood up and walked to the podium at the front of the room. Hesitantly. Haltingly. Emotion choked her. She opened her mouth to speak. She closed her mouth. Breathed. In. Out. Again. Open. Close. Breathed. In. Out. Again. Open. Close. Ebb. Flow.
I took her a glass of water. A box of Kleenex. "I first met Doug in 2002 when I came here," she began in her throaty voice, tears running down her face. "I'd just gotten out of prison. He was really nice to me. He'd give me cigarettes. He helped me. Get sober. For four years. I slipped in 2006. And now, I'm just out of rehab." Ebb. Flow. "I'm okay. I'm going to miss him. He was a real friend."
I knew her in her 'slip'. That place where she had ebbed away from sobriety into the flow of alcohol that separated her from staying on track with the world around her. I'd met her just after I'd begun working at the shelter. She was always funny. Always amused by the comings and goings of the shelter. Ebb. Flow. Her state didn't matter. Sober. Drunk. She always looked at the bright side. She was always chatty. Always looking out for her fellow man.
She went away for awhile and now she says, "I'm back."
She tells the interviewer for the Christmas WishList that she doesn't like the schedule of shelters and hopes to get her life back on track. She says she enjoys dancing, listening to music, reading and her favorite thing would be to soak in a nice hot bath.
And all she wants for Christmas is a pair of size 8 winter boots.
Size 8 boots. I imagine what she could do with those boots. Perhaps with winter boots she'd kick butt. Walk on out of here and into a different life. These boots are made for walking. I wonder where she'd go?
She's getting on track. Getting herself together.
I pray she gets what she asks for. I pray someone will read her wish and in their gift remind her, she is not alone. She is not forgotten. She has the power to walk on by the things that brought her down so she can get on up and get her life back on track.
In. Out. Ebb. Flow.
In. Out. Ebb. Flow.