Caring for the Hurting

Photo used freely, courtesy of saavem on stock.xchng
Photo used freely, courtesy of saavem on stock.xchng

This is a story I wrote for a college class that I took on death and dying. I have also shared this on another blog, Although this story is fiction, it is repeated every day around the nation. We as a society have little time, patience, or compassion for the poor and the hurting. We walk by them every day in our hurry to get to our next appointment or our next job assignment.

As a Reiki practitioner and healer, it is my job to seek out the poor and the hurting and bring them healing. Everyone is called to the same healing work and compassion for their fellow human beings. This is what Jesus was talking about in his famous Good Samaritan parable.

Let the Reiki light open your eyes to Sally and her story and the stories of those all around you. Namaste.

The Tragic Death of Sally

No one remembered Sally. Perhaps no one even knew Sally. Sure, people heard of her. Her picture was splashed across the news in a dramatic end to a quiet life. A life cut short by desperation.

Sally stared at the mirror, foward, then sideways. Can you see the bulge? Perhaps if I arrange my dress this way, no one will notice. Her thoughts flitted like the sunbeams spilling through the window. Nervous. Excited.

Sally eased herself into the chair, carefully balancing her belly by slouching forward. The pastor walked by and Sally averted her eyes.
“Hey, Sal. How are you? You know, I really need that bulletin done, and can you answer some of those emails, people really are interested in the church lately, and I need…”

The stream of words stopped abruptly as the pastor’s eyes moved from Sally’s breasts to her stomach. Sally winced.

“What? What? I really thought you were better than that. Sexual immorality will not be tolerated in this place, do you hear? You are supposed to be a role model in this church.”

The walls shook at the pastor’s outburst. Sally’s mind darted back to that late night dog walk, the piercing pain, and then the darkness. A long nothingness and then a hospital room, an exam, a police report. Sally breathed back her tears and looked down at her hands. Hands that should have protected her that night. Why did she not know better?

“Get out of here. You are done. I never want to see you again. No employee of  my church will ever display such behavior.”

Sally could no longer hold back the tears. She whispered, “Without this job how can I ever support my child?”

“Go get another job you sinner! Are you thinking about abortion? You deserve to burn in hell.”

Sally ran out the door, leaving a trail of tears behind.

“I’m sorry, there are just no jobs. Are you sure that you don’t have any other experiences? Your resume is just so… bare. Have you tried the local restaurant? What about retail, fast food, anything?”

Sally bowed her head low. “I’ve tried everything, ma’am. I was hoping your agency…”

“Well, I’m sorry. The economy is tough for everyone right now. Check back in a few months.”

Department of Human Services. Sally shuddered at the sign. She pushed the door open and looked down at the slip of paper in her hands. Appointment time: 9:30am. Intake counselor: Linda.

“Are you Sally?” Sally looked up to a tired, grimacing face. “Come on back, I’ll see if I can help you.” Linda turned and walked toward the back of the office, keeping up a stream of mutters. “Geez, when will this ever end. It will be so busy again today. I know bad economy and everything, but really. Can’t people learn to take care of themselves?”

Linda plopped down at a desk and Sally eased her heavy belly into the chair on the other side. “Now I see that you are in your ninth month of pregnancy. We can open a new case for you. I can see you have little cash reserves and your need is immediate. I can get you food stamps today, and I will put you in the pre-TANF program. You will have to let me know as soon as your baby is born. With a family of two, you can get about $400 month. How is your housing situation right now? I hope you don’t pay more than $200 rent. I can put you on the wait list for Section 8 housing, but it is a three or four year wait. You know, you will have to start looking for a job when your baby is 6 months old.”

Sally stared at her hands and nodded. She thought back to the newspaper opinion article she read the day before. “Many people are turning to government assistance, using the economy as an excuse. Why should the welfare recipient work after all? The government provides everything for them. Do you know that they can even buy lobster with their food stamps? This laziness is spreading to the millions on unemployment as well. The Republicans are right to put an end to all of this and return to the principles of hard work on which our country was founded. The family is breaking apart and so many unwed mothers are causing poverty to rise…”

“I’m not lazy, am I?” Sally whispered.

Linda looked up from her paperwork. “What did you say?” she asked sharply. Sally shut her eyes in fear.

“Never mind. Just write your social security number here and fill out this other form. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Sally moaned in pain. “Just one more push. You’re almost there!” The doctor  patted Sally’s arm while the nurse placed a cloth on her forehead. Sally found her last strength and pushed.

“Congratulations! It’s a girl.” The doctor’s jubilant words were met with silence. Under his breath the doctor whispered, “Come on, baby. Just breathe.”

“Sally, we are going to take your baby down the hall,” the nurse said as she rushed out of the room.

Sally was too tired to cry, too tired to feel. This baby was everything, all she had left in the world. She buried her face in the pillow and closed her eyes.

God, she thought. You took my job, you took my house, you took my dignity. Do you have to take my baby? God, do you even exist? Why is the world so bad?

“I hear your cry, I feel you pain.” The answer came back in Sally’s fevered dream. “I have prepared heaven for people like you. Hold on. I see the sin of the world, and I will judge.”

“I’m sorry, Sally. With no child, you are no longer eligible for TANF. You can get food stamps.” Linda patted Sally’s hand, her demeanor softer than before.

“But where will I live? I was using all the money to rent a room. Now I can’t even do that.” Sally sobbed.

“Perhaps you can stay in a family shelter. Call 211 for assistance. I can’t do any more for you. I’m sorry.”

Sally left the DHS office and walked down the road to the bridge. “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” she whispered.

The evening news splashed across the town’s television screens. “Woman’s body recovered in Cangey River. People passing by tried to stop the suicidal young woman. Rescue crews were sent, but it was too late. The identity of the woman has not yet been released.”


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