Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Daisy Forest

The graveyard these past weeks has been full of white daisies. I call them Shasta daisies, but others call them oxeye daisies, and there are likely other names. I have loved that the people who mow between the graves have left the flowers standing until the last possible moment, a white mini forest.

My young friend Cloud (well, that’s not her real name, but she has one of those momma was a hippie nature names) has been sleeping in the daisy forest. They are tall enough to hide her from easy view, and in the middle of that tossing, blossoming wave of bloom there are a few nice concrete graves, good for putting your blanket on, or your pile of cardboard. It’s one of the safer places to be a woman alone, with no resources. At least for the moment.

Cloud reminds me of my latest cat, Smudgie. It took a long time to coax Smudgie into our shop; she preferred to stay out of reach in the top of the ancient plum tree, even through the storms of winter. She is a beautiful cat, but still easily alarmed, though now she waits for treats and likes to supervise my typing, and loves to cuddle Champ the pitbull. The key for Smudgie was never insisting, never intruding, always being ready to step back and start again. And again.

Cloud’s friend, who is in jail at the moment, told me a few months ago that Cloud was pregnant. I asked him to have her come see me, so we could talk. He said she was crying in their camp,  not wanting another baby taken by  the authorities. I told him I’d help her, but there was a lot to be done. Authorities do not look kindly on young women living on the street. Especially young women with mental health issues and drug issues who end up in jail a lot. But I told him…who knows, we can try.

Cloud didn’t come in. I’d see her from a distance. I’d hear of arrests, of beatings, of..situations. One day she showed up and asked for some food. I said, as I handed her a bag of fruit and bread, your guy says…..and she said “Oh, God, no, I can’t be pregnant, that would be crazy, I’m not pregnant”. She was very firm on the point. Okay, I said. But if you were…you know you can talk with me. She left.

And she was jailed, out of jail, in the next town. Friends would bring me reports, knowing my concern for her.

Today she walked in. “I heard you were at the emergency room last night” I said. “sounds like you’ve been having some hard times”. For the first time in a while she was clear. Off drugs, at least off discernable drugs. Coherent, focused.

“You know that talk we had a while ago?” she asked. “Yes”. “Well, yeah, it’s true. I am pregnant”. “Okay. What do you want to do?”

“I want this baby. Can you help me get in touch with the women’s shelter?”

Phone call made, message left. Call returned. Mary knows a lot about Cloud, because months ago I talked to her about this young woman, and told her I was waiting, just waiting, until she was ready to try to be clear and seek shelter and care. Mary, heaven love her, said “Well, this is great. We’ve got a long road, but you’ve managed to get her to take this first step, that’s amazing”

She’s coming as quickly as possible from out of town, to meet with my young friend and try to coax her in. Quickly as possible, however, in my region means that with luck she will arrive by nightfall. And we will hope to find our young friend still sober, momentarily undrugged, and willing to come in from the cold.


Blogger Lucy said...

Delicate work, balancing a sense of the need for urgency with that of patience... Hope it works out OK.

9:58 PM, May 17, 2012  
Blogger am said...

I hope so, too.

"For the first time in a while she was clear."

My experience is that those moments of clarity can be positive turning points. It's good to know that she trusted that she could turn to you for guidance.

Lovely Shasta daisies.

5:13 PM, May 24, 2012  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

good news and bad.

She met with the director of a shelter with programs and help, and was safely housed for a few days. She remained clear, and came to my shop. We had some nice conversations--when she has clarity she is amusing, intelligent, insightful, and determined.
And then she ran into a friend with her drug of choice.
And then she went out of control, and left the shelter, and said she needed no help, and said she might as well be dead anyway, because...who loved her?
And I wasn't there to say "you are so, so loved" and it perhaps wouldn't have been enough anyway to obliterate the pains of her young life.

I haven't seen her since.

But I will (unless in fact she did kill herself, and I think if she did I would have known, I would have been called to identify yet another of the lost ones the hospital doesn't know). And she will reach another clear moment, and maybe once again she'll reach out.

We'll be ready and waiting. Again. And again, and again. of these times, well, maybe she'll make it.

6:01 PM, May 24, 2012  
Blogger ocean lady said...

It seems as if so very many of life's seemingly intractable cycles of tragedy begin as the simple lack of love. May your loving efforts now help her change some of that - if she will let you.

12:32 PM, May 30, 2012  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

Having to wait like that must be quite difficult, based on your comment of a few days ago. In no way do I mean this to sound harsh, but there is always another 'Cloud' that needs food, help, someone to listen; how sad is that? I agree, I think you would have heard by now if something had happened.

8:55 PM, May 30, 2012  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Not harsh, LiveWire, just realistic. She showed up on Friday at a group meal offered by one of my church friends, who phoned me to let me know. The community has watchers scattered throughout, and we try in our way to keep each other informed. My friend told me that she ate a lot, which is good, seemed not too drug addled, and took some warm clothing. I believe she is staying a town over. Her jailed partner just sent her a letter to my care (well, to The Bookstore Lady, this town, no address, but the post office knows where I am). I think she'll be stopping by in the next day or so.

9:44 PM, May 30, 2012  
Blogger am said...

Yes. She will reach other clear moments, and she will remember you. Sending love and encouragement to Cloud. She is loved. It isn't easy asking for true help when friends continue to appear with the illusion of help through drugs and oblivion -- when she can't find her love for herself anywhere. I'm focusing on this:

"... when she has clarity she is amusing, intelligent, insightful and determined ..."

8:45 AM, June 03, 2012  

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