OK... What is going on here???!!!
Yesterday afternoon (Friday), I went down to visit my friend "Alex" at the crisis home and he is doing well. THANK YOU to everyone who has sent your well wishes and kind thoughts his way!!! Earlier in the week I visited him, and I shared the story about finding another one of my homeless friends that I was worried about in a neighborhood I have never been in. (See "A Needle in a Haystack" Part 1.)
With all this stuff going on in my life, I have been thinking about how fortunate I am to have my life and all the goodness and blessings I have. I have been thinking a lot about all these homeless friends of mine (hundreds over the years) and how much I truly love them. So many non-homeless people "miss out" because they are afraid of the homeless and bypass potentially WONDERFUL friends with HUGE hearts!!! All they need is to be treated with DIGNITY, RESPECT and LOVE and you will have a friend for life!
One friend in particular, Ryan, was 17 or 18 when I first met him. He was the smartest of all the kids out there on the street and he always made sure everyone else ate before he did. He was sort of a "Guardian Angel" for all his other street friends. Ryan is schizophrenic and what is called a "Tweeker"... a crystal meth addict. He loved music, so I gave him a guitar which he would play night and day to support himself. Over the two years I knew him, he declined rapidly and his paranoia became pretty bad mostly due to his drug addiction. One day he disappeared and it has been 4 years since I have seen him. I have asked the street gang off and on if any of them have heard from him, and I would get news once in awhile about what was going on with him. I guess he went to the police in the town I knew him in (Oceanside) and he "narked" about all of the various drug dealers in the city. He was instrumental in cleaning up a lot of the drug traffic that was going on. BUT, when you are a nark, your life is in danger, so he had to leave. He went to Oregon to his father's place for a little bit, but eventually moved to San Diego which is about 45 minutes from Oceanside.
Ryan will always be one of my favorite street friends because of the good he has done for so many people. It is hard to see because he has such a good heart and is so thoughtful when it comes to OTHER people, but he just can't seem to love HIMSELF enough to get clean. BUMMER! I have thought so much about him all this week after finding my other friend Joey.
So, after my visit with Alex yesterday, I was driving home and decided to go back to the same restaurant I had stopped in earlier in the week where I bumped into Joey. As I'm driving up trying to find a parking place, I look ahead on the corner and THERE WAS RYAN!!! It had been 4 years since I had seen him, but I recognized him IMMEDIATELY!!! I honked my horn and waved to him to come over and I said, "Hey Ryan, it's Tall Paul from Oceanside... Remember me?" He said, "Holy Sh#T!!! PAUL... How's it going... Oh My God... I can't believe it!!!" Well... That made two of us!!! Here I was in this neighborhood that I had only been in once before and here I find ANOTHER NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK!!!
I found a parking spot and we talked for about an hour and a half. He looked really good, but he is still homeless. Still on drugs. Now he is selling drugs. I told him how much I missed him and how I always admired how he took care of everyone out there on the streets and how I always thought that he had so much potential to do good. I told him that I loved him and that my other friends Jessie and Cindy also love and believe in him. I KNOW I was touching him in a long forgotten way... the streets are hard and he needed to hear that there are people still out there that believe in him! I gave him my number and invited him to go with me sometime to my camper that I keep out in the desert. I think he needs to get away and get some fresh air and really think things over about life. He said he is so tired of all the drugs and the way of life and he wants to stop someday soon. He may never stop, but at least I KNOW that HE KNOWS now that I LOVE HIM and BELIEVE IN HIM. I feel good because I WASN'T AFRAID to tell him how I was feeling. He may never be ready to get help, but at least he knows without a doubt that he is LOVED, and that's all that matters. He has someone now to turn to if and when he is ready to get help.
How often do you tell your family and friends just how much you LOVE and BELIEVE in them???!!! We forget how important this is... we all need to hear this so don't be afraid to tell them how you think TODAY!!!
I don't know what it is about that restaurant in that little neighborhood that God and the Angels keep sending me to, but I'm going to keep going back whenever I'm in the neighborhood!!! MIRACLES have happened this week there... The MIRACLE of Joey and the Miracle of Ryan. Both "Tweeker" Drug Addicts. Both homeless. Both have no direction in life. BOTH AMAZING, LOVING, SELFLESS PEOPLE Who I am PROUD to call my FRIENDS!!!
Thank you God for the Gift that these friends are to me!!!