to the right of that little house you see is where the man collapsed
It was a normal day on the Corner. We had given out lots of meals, hugged lots of people, heard lots of stories. We were winding down...and then, a man took off.
One of our homeless friends suddenly got up and ran across the street, as though he was running from something. At that exact time, a bus pulled up in front of where he had headed, so I couldn't see where he went.
I heard a call for water, and Jonathan and I got up to find some water, me to my car where I stored a water bottle and Jonathan to The Opportunity Center to get water there.
By the time we made it behind where the bus had been, we saw the source of the call for help: a homeless man was laying on the ground, on top of and next to what seemed to be all of his belongings in the world...strewn out in trash bags and beside them.
Skinny and weak, legs partially wrapped in bandages, he tried lifting his head to talk to us. He assured us he needed no water. "I just drank a bottle," he said.
Several of his friends were gathered round. One had just called 9-1-1. They were trying to convince him to let EMS take him to the ER. One of them said, "You have unfinished business. You have to get better. Go with them when they get here."
The stench was strong. Our kind, weak friend had been laying in the same place for 24 hours. He had not made it into the shelter the night before. He could not walk.
All I could think was, This is the United States, and I feel like I'm in another land.
The ambulance didn't come...it felt like it took forever. I called 9-1-1 again to make sure someone had been sent. They had been, and moments later they showed up.
It didn't take long for EMS to share that something in his body was really off, to that point that he could no longer stay outside. If he did not come with them, they shared that his internal organs would begin shutting down.
His concerned group of friends helped him get his stuff together. I asked him if I could pray for him. I put my hand on his knee, and asked the Lord to be with him as he went, and to bring healing to his body.
As soon as he got into the ambulance, he tried to get up and off of the gurney. I'm not sure why, but it was almost as though he realized he was actually leaving for the first time. I'm not sure how much of what had been going on he was really taking in before then, but something surely clicked as he was rolled into the ambulance.
After they drove away, one of his friends who had been sitting a bit back from the scene, said to me, "Thank you for your care and concern." We, who had done so little, were being thanked by the men who lived out there with him, day in and day out. How does that work?!? I felt I should thank them for letting us be a part of trying to get their friend to the hospital.
It was so special, really, that they would let us join in that personal moment, that they let us be there with their friend. Through that experience, a bridge formed between us. They were homeless; we were not. They were older; we were younger. They were all friends; we were outsiders.
And yet we came together. Together, we loved on this kind man who was hurting and saw him off to those who could help.
Last week I asked around about our friend who had gone to the hospital, but no one I talked to had seen him since. I do hope he is all right. Hopefully, I will get to see him again today.