“Lila” is her name. I saw her (I thought it was a guy by the way she is always dressed) for the first time almost two years ago. She was looking into a dumpster at a botanical garden where I occasionally go for my walks. She spent a good amount of time looking through garbage. I did not give it a second thought. I thought it was a homeless person with one of those shopping carts next to her.
As time went by, I used to see her and would wave at her or say good morning. She just looked at me. Even though she intrigued me, I just went about my life as most of us do.
Back to the future. During the last blossoming of the night cacti at the botanical garden, she went around the neighborhood to alert us as to the blossoming in her bike. The next day, I went to take some pictures of the cacti to illustrated the day-after look of the plant. That’s when I saw her close up. She was conversing with the maintenance guys, so I joined in the conversation. The closer I got to her, I noticed her beautiful blue eyes. Also noticed the same clothes she has been wearing for the past years. That was not important, but it is one of those things you just notice. I asked her if she wanted to be in a picture next to the cacti, because she was part of the event, but she declined.
Yesterday, Saturday, I had to take a detour due to some sprinklers blocking the usual route of my walk, so I decided to go to the botanical garden. There she was surrounded by her cats. I forgot, she feeds lots of cats and they look clean and very well fed. I approached her to greet her and she got close to me. Her body odor was making me sick, so silently I asked God to just do something for me to focus on her and not the putrid odor surrounding her. A breeze showed up out of nowhere. Thank you Jesus!
We talked for a while, and I found out she owns a house that has been condemned by the city, so she has been sleeping outside for months now. This started during the winter and is going on right now. Among the many things I noticed while she was talking, was her soft voice, her beautiful blue eyes and gorgeous hair. You know me, it’s all about the hair. Hey, I am just human!
Recap her situation…She moved with her parents to the area over 40 years ago from Miami, her parents died, so I imagine something must have triggered her actual situation, because obviously, no one decides one day to become a hoarder and mentally flip the switch, so one of my next mission is to ask her how all of this happened. She is very willing to have a conversation, because just like me, she must feel very lonely sometimes. We humans are so much alike. The outer crust is just that, the outer crust.
After telling her I was going to find out if there’s any social services agency in the city or county to help her with some of the issues she is facing right now, I bid farewell and left.
Came home ready to fix my breakfast, and then the lightbulb went on. I thought, “Noury, how can you think about breakfast, when there is a woman out there that only God knows what is she eating for breakfast.” McDonalds to the rescue! Got in my car, got a complete breakfast with coffee to go. I was so excited and feeling so happy. It is true what they say, it feels better to give than to receive. The best $6.59 ever spent in my life!
Went back to the park, but no Lila. Thanks God I remembered where she mentioned her house was. Drove to her house, and yes, the house is condemned. She was outside with her cats, so I gave her the bag with all the goodies and told her that coffee already had sugar and cream. She looked at me and in her soft voice asked me…”do you like coffee?” In a second I realized that she was being gentle enough not to reject the coffee, but hinting in a very nice way she did not drink coffee. I asked her what she likes to drink, and she said tea and water. She said to me that I didn’t have to do this, but that she appreciated it. I responded that I knew that, but I wanted to do it. After a few more words, I left with the coffee. The Lord works in mysterious ways, that cup of coffee was the most delicious cup of coffee I have had in a while and was my only breakfast that morning.
I feel amazingly grateful to have been given this opportunity to do something meaningful for this woman and to remind myself of the important things in life. We are here to rise beyond pettiness and to really look around and notice what may make us feel uncomfortable sometimes, but it is no other than real life, and an opportunity to show up.
I don’t know what all of this is going to translate to, but I am going to take it one step at a time. Next week, City Hall and follow the energy and flow of things.
Why am I sharing this? I don’t need any approval or anything to that effect, just wanted to share that there was a situation right on my face, and I was in such denial for such a long time. Hopefully I will be more conscious, aware and sensitive to those around me when the opportunity arises again. Life is a constant course in “Human Improvement.”
I know some of you are thinking that this woman is probably a millionaire and she doesn’t need my help. Someone already made that observation. And yes, probably she is a millionaire because her property is sitting within the limits of a city known for wealth and chic. But, that is so irrelevant to me. Mentally she is not doing well…and that’s all that matters to me. Money is just that…money.
Thanks for reading…