Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Another Woman Gone
PHOTO/EDITS BY RUTH RADER
I greeted the morning sun as it rose and spread its veil over the transit center in
downtown Corvallis, Oregon. And as I basked in the warmth of the new day while
listening to music on my laptop...she appeared.
No one else knew that a door...that never should have had to open...did...and when
my friend walked away for the last time...nobody else saw the door close. But I did.
"I can't stay" she said, as her lips trembled and her eyes filled with tears.
"I know" I replied, in a voice as old and sad as a wolf's howl echoing from the dawn
And as I watched her walk away...with a full frame pack on her back...her every step
falling with firm and brave resolution...I watched the reminder of a failed system in
this city...walk away with her.
You who have never followed a path like she has through her life, have no concept of
what she carried in her heart when she turned away from me. You write out your
declarations, bang your drums and have no idea what left Corvallis this morning.
The truth is: You lost something at dawn today. You lost a beautiful person and you let
that person down.
She deserved better and you all refused to give it to her.
None of you have an excuse...Not. One. Of. You.
This is not easy for me to write but I decided, as I watched her bus pull out of the transit
center this morning...that I would share this with you.
It has become too easy for some of you to push some people away from you...back...into a
shadow...that has been created out of your own hate.
And so my friend...who struggled with a million bad memories and alcohol...gave up...
gave in...and stepped into such a bright light that I only wish that I could have taken a
photograph of that moment.
But because I promised to keep it confidential...I couldn't capture that image...but it
was burned into my mind...where it still remains.
If the proposed shelter existed...along with a more cohesive and user-friendly provider-
system...and a sincere wish from the city to find housing for those who sincerely want
to find a permanent way out of their present homeless situation...
...she would have stayed here.
I know what she will face. And tonight, in the midnight quiet, I will pray once again
that she makes it to a better place...without falling dead in a roadside ditch, first.
I know that God hears prayers.
The question now is: Do you?