“I remember the place I had. There was a bedroom for me and one for my son. I had a wonderful queen sized bed, and I brought other stuff in to make it feel homey,” a 22 year old mother, Frances, talked with me over coffee and shared memories of the home she had built for herself and her son just over a year ago.
She has since lost it all.
We are working toward getting her housed again. I told her, “You created a home for yourself once, so you know you can do it. It can happen again.”
“What, so I can lose everything all over again?
It hurts worse each time I lose something or someone close to me.”
What is the motivation to build a life when the trauma of loss looms over each success? The possibility of loss is just as real as the possibility of success.
For those who struggle with poverty and homelessness, the possibility of experiencing loss is a reality in day to day life.
Homeless youth daily have their belongings stolen or lost. Or they have to pawn whatever valuable item they have for a few dollars to help them get through the day. And worse, they lose the people who are close to them.
Frances has been homeless now for months. She stays with friends when she can. The other night she spent the entire night at a 24 hour coffee shop. She is exhausted. Her past has tired her out, her present situation is tiring, and the future seems overwhelming.
Even though we are working toward getting her housed, what we need to remember is that every success represents a possible future loss. In other words, as she gets on her feet, she faces the potential for more pain and suffering compounded with what she has already experienced. We have to be honest and admit that we cannot guarantee against future pain. Our communities don’t often have the resources needed for recovery from past and present experiences never mind preparing someone for what’s to come.
Let’s acknowledge the courage of young people who face both
homelessness AND the path out of homelessness.
And then let’s be there for them!
Please support a local youth organization that provides homeless youth with some kind of stability.