Saturday, August 25, 2018

Morning Visitor

Her name was Nicole, but at first I didn’t even know she was a person. As I walked up the walk to work, I saw what appeared to be a pile of something covered by a sheet right in front of the door. It was raining, so I thought someone had delivered something and covered it to protect it from the rain, but as I walked closer, I saw the green water bottle on the right, and the flowered bag on the left, then a lock of dark hair escaping from the sheet. This was no pile of stuff. This was a woman sound asleep in front of the door.

I called out, “Good morning” a couple of times until she lifted her head and looked warily at me. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I was sleeping somewhere else, but it started to rain.” She quickly busied herself putting on her slippers and gathering her few belongings.

She was a small woman with striking blue eyes. Around her neck hung a rosary—the same shade of blue as her eyes.—a pale endless blue like a sea that stretched on forever.

She stuffed her sheet and an unraveling skein of green yarn into her bag. “Are you knitting something,” I asked. “Yes,” she replied, “a blanket.” It was a warm late August morning, but cold weather was coming.

“Do you go to the shelters?” I asked. She said she didn’t like them, that she had been managing on the street for two years. Her children—she didn’t say how many—were “with family.” She said she saw them "sometimes."

Having returned her few possessions to her bag, she apologized once again, then walked off toward the street.

I wish I had invited her to join me for breakfast, to hear more of her story. How did this tiny woman end up sleeping on the doorstep? What circumstances in life took her away from her children or the family they stayed with? How does someone so frail looking survive two years outside?

I am left with many questions and the memory of those eyes. I see them still.