So I figured out why this guest blog has been so affecting me. As many of you may know, my sister Teresa suffered from some pretty extreme mental illness. And for much of her adult life was homeless. For a short period she was safe, in a government subsidized apartment in Ohio and during that time I took her out for her birthday. Dinner and movie is what I offered. I would have taken her anywhere, of course, for the nicest meal she wanted. She chose Wendy’s. And she’s standing at the registered and looks over to me and asks “I can get anything I want?” In just the same tone of voice that woman asked if she could have that scented hand soap.
And she still only ordered a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, a value fry and a coke. That was what she wasn’t certain she could have. I can’t stop crying thinking about it. How hard her life must have been for that humble meal to have meant so much.
The mentally ill, homeless and poor tend to become just archetypes. They are villain-ized or granted sainthood, they are political talking points, or, at best, they are a problem to be solved. But what they really are are human beings. Who want to experience joy, safety, love, art, family, adventure…all the things that anyone reading this wants to experience.
My collection of hand soaps, shampoos and body washes isn’t going to solve anything. But for the month it takes someone to go through a bottle, I will have given a little bit of joy to someone who has a much, much harder life than I do. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Apologies in advance to my sisters and anyone else for whom the above is a trigger.