The Homeless Man

On a cold, wet winter’s night I walked from the maternity ward down the stairs into the foyer. Out of the corner of my eye I registered the presence of a man. He touched my awareness ever so fleetingly.

The day before had been a long one with the highs and lows that go with the birth if a child. Together we rode the waves, crests of expectation, troughs of disappointment. Now a day had passed and time magically softened memory’s hard edges.

I felt tired.

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Not paying full attention I turned down the corridor towards the automatic doors. A young man approached me. Immediately I recalled his presence. Standing a respectful distance from me, he asked me for a couple of dollars to buy a drink.

Time stood still as I appraised the situation. Of course I was safe, I stood in the hospital foyer. I tried to remember how much money I had in my purse. Yesterday’s fatigue dulled my recall. I wanted to give him a note not just some loose change.

He waited patiently, not pressing.

My muddy mind cleared and I pulled out my new wallet conscious of the brand. Turning the purse inanely around, I found the note compartment and pulled out the last note. He said, “No it’s too much, I only want a couple of dollars.”

I held his gaze for the whole time, then lost eye contact when giving him the money. Reconnecting I saw light come into his weary eyes. Already I’d sussed him, not high, no smell of booze, tidy but slightly dirty. He told me his truth; he couldn’t find a place to live.

I walked out of the hospital into the crisp night air, grateful for all the blessings in my life.

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