Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Know It's Not Much

Diana's the one who celebrated a triumphant victory on Easter: a night in a shelter instead of a jail cell. She had spent this holiday locked up the last several years running.

Diana's the one with the low, husky voice. And I mean low; when her demons shouted curses from the shower, I was sure a man had snuck in there to pick a fight.

Diana is a fighter. She fights the drug addiction that took her kids from her, and while in rehab, she fought another woman and broke several of her cds.

Diana battled back her demons. She acknowledged that the rehab stay was making her violent, and she took her leave--but not before paying for the damage she caused. Recovery was still the goal, but she knew she must forge her own path.

On Easter, she announced the length of her sobriety in that very specific way recovering addicts do; in her case, however, there were no years and months to list, just days. 42, I think it was.

On Easter, Diana dressed in a fitted sunny yellow dress and heels. Her short hair was neatly feathered back. Diana is gentle and graceful. She struggles. She fights to keep the spirits at bay. These attributes are not contradictory.

I saw Diana a few weeks ago. She sat on a church's steps. No food pantry line there, nothing going on, Diana simply sat and watched the traffic halting my trip home. A quick yell out the window might confuse her after all this time, I figured, so I didn't make myself known. I watched as she stared vacantly ahead, lips moving.

Today, Diana came to mind in that way people sometimes do, blocking your line of vision 'til you take note and decide what to do. Write, I decided. A meditation, an offered prayer.

I drove my kids back from the beach and mulled over the words I should use. I drove through downtown and there was Diana, one street over.

You could say this wasn't a coincidence. Homeless people rarely leave downtown. Yet I've hardly seen a soul from the shelter since I left in April. Maybe three sightings of women I knew, including that first one of Diana.

On the radio was Elton John's Your Song. "I know it's not much but it's the best I can do/My gift is my song and this one's for you."

This one's for Diana.

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