Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
I wrote a success story recently. Today is one of the non success.
I met Sam about 10 years ago. We had gone down under the bridge on a Saturday morning to clean all the debris and used needles left by the people who live down there. Sam came over with a big smile and asked if he could help. We let him! For awhile, every Saturday he helped us clean. Then, he disappeared.
We found out (from his wife, who lived on the street with him) that he had been taken to jail. SHE said, it was for beating her up. Knowing both of them, I have a feeling he was defending himself from her, but of course the police believe the woman most of the time.
He was gone for a long time. In the meantime, we had moved away and come back. One night we were serving dessert under the bridge and Sam came up to me. "Remember me?" he said, with a big grin. After hugging me we caught up. His wife left him, and he was with another woman. Bad news.
Sam kept coming on Wednesday night for our meal under the bridge. However, slowly in the next two years I have watched him deteriorate. He has gone from a nice looking, friendly young man to a tragic, never smiling, knife yielding (a big one!) young man. Last night, if a person had not seen him in awhile, he would be unrecognizable.
He is very thin. His front two teeth are gone. He has a wild look in his eyes. He is filthy. He always comes straight to me to hug me, and last night was no exception. After the hug he starting a big long narrative about his troubles. His arms were flailing the whole time and I could understand very few words. What I did understand was a "she done me wrong" rant. I told him he needed to leave women alone.
After about 10 minutes of his incoherent raving, he went back to his table. The last time I saw him last night he was staggering down a gravel road that runs along a creek behind the area where we serve food on Wednesday night. He was pushing a big rolly dumpster he had found somewhere. Our new boarder, Chris, asked me why he was pushing a can of garbage. I told him that was Sam's "stuff".
As I watched him go, it occurred to me that it might be the last time I see him. I love this boy. I asked the guys if they would go with me to find him today, if we can. Maybe he has "come down" enough, from whatever he had been putting into his body, that we can talk. I look at him like Jesus looked over Jerusalem and I weep.