We were eating lunch when about twelve taps at the door came, softly, rhythmically and then stopped. We looked at each other and guessed it was the one of our guys that always came when we were closed. “Pete, for sure,” and we agreed.
We opened the door to find Rachel, a twenty something native Canadian with a three inch gash over her right temple, blood not fresh, but not old either. “I had no where to go. I couldn’t find anybody. I didn’t know what to do, so I came here.”
We ushered her in, sat her down and started to tend to her wound. There was more: a bicycle pedal imprint over her right knee where she had been thrown, sore ribs and bruises on her body where she had been kicked and punched.
“I don’t know why I get guys that beat me up,” she said softly, between tears. “I left my last boyfriend for this very reason. I just found out I am a month pregnant. What am I going to do?”
“You did the right thing to come to us,” we comforted her.
We cleaned the wound and bandaged it – thankfully it didn’t need stitches – this time. She spoke so softly, as if her every word, let alone her presence with us was, as she thought, was such an intrusion.
“I couldn’t find Benny or Smitty or Lally, or anybody. I had nowhere else to go. I didn’t know what to do,” she said again, and then broke into muffled sobs.
As I watched, Erin put down the towel, and wrapped her arms around Rachel, and held her. The sobs turned to a moaning and deep sobbing from areas of pain deep within. She melted into Erin’s embrace, now just a little girl, all alone, with some pretty big problems.
“There, there,” Erin whispered, “You’re Ok with us. You are safe here.” And she held her.
That’s it. That’s what OIM is all about – somewhere and someone to whom you can run when the bottom falls out of life. A safe place where someone who cares will hold you when the whole world is crashing around you. Where you have a name. Where you can share your pain, and know that another human being really does care. Where, for not-enough-minutes-at-a-time, you can have a family again.
Moments of time etched on our minds, some of which will not be soon forgotten. When something we do seems to make a whole lot of sense, in a world which doesn’t make sense at all. If we never did another single, solitary thing for the rest of forever, we were there – and we are here – for Rachel.