Her voice cracked as she spoke and tears welled up in her eyes. The way she spoke, so cautiously, I could feel her fear. Shame emanated from her core. It was as if with every plea for help, a portion of her soul was severed. This is a snippit from my experience on Saturday, but let me tell you about my Friday first…
Red lipstick taught me a thing or two over Valentine’s Day weekend. Yes, you read that correctly… a cosmetic product held my lessons. The holiday fell on a Friday this year and I was determined to find the PERFECT pigment of red lipstick for my plans that night.
The search began in my makeup bag, but let’s face it, I’m a pink girl. Every tube of lipstick I own is some tint of rose… mostly fuchsia, pink-cranberry, and hot pink. I’ve never felt red looked good on my lips which is weird because I’m completely comfortable wearing hot pink? Odd, I know. Ha! I did own two tubes of red lipstick, so I tried them on and really didn’t feel they were the shade I needed.
One of my dearest friends proposed to his partner on Valentine’s night and he trusted me to lead the coordination of 12 of his friends who were all in on the dinner-proposal-surprise. Brian had a detailed itinerary for the evening which fell into five and ten minute increments. All I had to do was follow his carefully prepared plan. I was the glue that held it all together. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I’ve always been a believer that the right outfit will make magic happen, so of course such a festive holiday called for a new dress!!!
It took four stores to find a stunning little black dress for the evening. It was on clearance, so I was thrilled. I paired my new dress with a charcoal gray silk scarf and deep red sweater. I just knew the perfect shade of red lipstick would pull it all together. So off I went to cosmetic aisle after cosmetic aisle in search of that deep, dark, sexy red color that I could picture so vividly in my mind. Two drug stores later and I was the proud owner of four new lipsticks of varying hues.
Throughout Friday, I tried on a lipstick, wore it around for a while, looked in the mirror, took my picture, and asked friends their opinions, then would repeat for the next shade; all of this was done in an attempt to make a decision. It was an arduous process. Each red was amazing, but I struggled picking the right color for the occasion. Perhaps it was my red lipstick insecurities coming to the surface and making the task impossible? Why was red such a difficult color for me to wear on my lips?
The night oozed with love. Yes, love was palpable; not only between Brian and his partner Todd, but also among all of their friends who were there to celebrate their special event. I swear I floated home on a cloud. I can’t even imagine how the two of them felt.
What a magical experience to be a part of and I’m so honored to have been there for such a happy moment!!!
Saturday started off like any other day… sleeping in a bit before I threw on comfy sweats to go run errands and purchase groceries for the week. My parking garage is located two blocks away from my downtown one-bedroom apartment. As I rounded the corner to my garage, a girl asked me for money because she was hungry. I know most of the homeless downtown. I know who has a drug or alcohol addiction. I know who is mentally impaired – either cognitively or psychiatrically. And, I can detect a “homeless scam” from a mile away. This girl was different. I had never seen her before that day. She appeared to be close to my age and I felt like I was looking in the mirror.
Her voice cracked as she spoke and tears welled up in her eyes. My heart shattered as I said, “I’m sorry… I don’t carry cash.” As a single woman walking downtown streets alone at all hours of the day and night, I’ve learned to not even carry a penny with me. As I made my way to my car I said a little prayer asking God to send angels to assist her in every and any way possible. I double-checked my bag to see if I had a granola bar or ANYTHING to give her. Whenever I can, I try to offer food to the homeless. No matter what situation predicated their current predicament, NO one should go hungry.
The parking garage exit was on the opposite side of the city block where she stood. When I reached my car, I felt an urge to drive around the block to ask if she needed a ride anywhere. It was freezing out. She was standing in a pile of snow. Cold. Hungry. Alone. And… Homeless? It was all too much for me to handle. Here I was driving my nice, red, sporty car and she had nothing but the clothes on her back. I’ve never in my life offered a stranger a ride **don’t panic, Mom and Dad** but I felt God was telling me to be a blessing to her.
In the short car ride to find her I thought to myself, “Where is her family? Where are the people who love her? She is someone’s baby.” That last statement really made my heart race…She is someone’s child. I’m trying so hard to get pregnant and I couldn’t help but think “What would I do if that was my daughter one day?”
Hell… that could easily have been me, you, or someone we know.
All it takes is a series of missteps, a few wrong turns, a couple bad decisions, running with the wrong crowd, or even something as simple as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and who knows how my life could’ve turned out. My biggest challenge recently was finding the right lipstick. Really? Sure, I went the cheaper route and made my purchases from a drug store rather than a department store cosmetic counter, but c’mon… I dropped nearly $10 a tube without batting an eyelash or care in the world. Talk about first world problems. Sigh.
When I reached the corner, I yelled to get her attention. She didn’t need a ride because she was staying at a shelter downtown. I shared that I was heartbroken I didn’t have any cash, but I felt compelled to stop back to at least offer her with a ride on such a cold day. I sincerely apologized that the ONLY thing I had in my car to share with her was a half eaten bag of mixed nuts. She responded, “Thank you for coming around the block to check on me. I will take anything. Thank you. Thank you very much!!” She was so grateful for my leftovers. WOW, that really put everything in perspective for me.
The entire drive to the grocery store I was upset; tears streamed down my face… I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to help her. The way she spoke, so cautiously, I could feel her fear. Shame emanated from her core. It was as if with every plea for help, a portion of her soul was severed. Yes, I was curious to know what happened in her life that had led her down this path, but her story was none of my business. And, it really didn’t matter. She was a child of God and needed help.
The only thing that kept replaying in my mind on a continuous loop was, “NO ONE should be without sustenance.”
My life is so busy… fulfilling goals… it is easy to forget all of the success I have attained already. Yes, I’m blessed to have shelter, food, gainful employment, and most of all friends and family who love me so much that no matter what mistakes I make in this lifetime I know I will never be without a warm place to sleep and food to nourish my body. I take for granted that not everyone has such a safety net in life. Thank you, God. Thank you.
© Renae Rossman and Candy Coated Reality™