On Monday as we left our acupuncture appointment, E and I went to the grocery store. Outside, there was a woman, obviously very down on her luck, who asked for spare change. E and I both gave her the change out of our pockets - a total of maybe a dollar. She went into the store - it's a natural foods market and produce stand, so I felt self-righteously okay that she'd be buying some whole grain bread or some organic clementines or something with her money; but I also didn't necessarily think too long about it.
When we were getting ready to check out, she was in front of us in line. Clearly agitated, like she was desperate for a fix. E looked at her purchase, and said to me, "That makes me so sad." She was buying a copper scrub sponge thing, something that is apparently used to smoke crack. Along with a bag of oranges. The woman in front of her in line made a very rude and judgy comment to the checker at the store about needing to pay by check because she refused to let the woman see that she had cash in her wallet. I was so angry with the judgy woman it just about made my blood boil, but I kind of couldn't figure it out. (At that time, I hadn't seen that the woman was buying crack paraphernalia, so I'm not sure if that would have changed my reaction or not.)
When we got out of the store, and we saw the woman panhandling again, E then relayed to me that he had seen she was buying crack accessories, and that is why he had said he was so sad about it.
It made me sad too. I had this realization, this phrase that I've heard so many times but never before had it had such a true feeling for me, "There but for the grace of god, go I."
E and I are so lucky to have the resources and support available to us that we do. Family close by. Thoughtful family, who talk about Otis and talk about missing him and talk about loving him, instead of pretending this is all just some horrible incident to forget about and move on from. Support professionals galore: we see three therapists - one just for me, one just for E, and one for the two of us. They all have given us reduced rates so that we can afford to go for as long as we need. My grandmother is our landlord, and we haven't paid rent for 4 months now, so that we could afford the therapy. Our acupuncturist has donated all of our sessions, for as long as we need. My hairdresser is going into the salon on Sunday, when they are closed, so she can give me a (no charge) haircut (my first since July, yikes) in a place where I don't have to deal with the crowds and the busy-ness and superficial chit chat of a bustling hair salon. We had meals delivered three times a week in September and October, and then twice a week through December.
Our friends have rallied around us. Made donations in Otis's name to keep his memory alive. Written his name in the sand, in the snow, on sidewalks with chalk, on refrigerators with magnets. Taught their own children about my boy, shown them his photograph, told them his name. Given us such incredible financial support that we can do the things that help us to heal without finances being a barrier. Sent us flowers, warm cozy heating pads, yummy lotions, lavender oils, "grief relief" flower essence spray, vitamins, bath salts, cards, board games, tea, fudge, organic produce deliveries (we have a dear friend who works on an organic farm and every sunday she has brought us a huge box of produce, for 3 months now.) Brought us a christmas tree and set up the lights on it. Sat with us while we sobbed. Taken us out and let us laugh, cry, or just be - without commenting that we haven't showered or aren't dressed for public...
And of course there is the amazing support of the community here, of my blm mama friends and my old bloggy friends. The comments on my blog posts often show up in the middle of the night, thank god I have friends who live all over the planet - because there are times that I wake up, scared, sad, shaking - and I check email on my phone and there in the middle of the night, I am reminded I'm not alone.
We are so blessed to have this support. Because honestly, it's a very very very thin line that separates me from the woman in the parking lot, doing whatever she can to block out her pain, to forget, to disappear.
Thank you for helping me not to disappear. Thank you for reminding me of me. Thank you for holding me up when I can't hold myself up.
Yes, you. Every single one of you.