The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
Published 9:18 am Thursday, May 20, 2021
By Julie Terry Cartner
With a deep sigh, he curled up tightly between the alley wall and the dumpster. Not the most pleasant smelling, but more protected from January’s bone-chilling wind than out in the open. And, he had to admit, some of the smells from the dumpster were pretty good – good enough that he might try to get in it later and forage for a meal. His dull hair, sunken eyes and skeletal frame attested to months of hard living, and he’d become adept at ignoring the hunger pangs and growling stomach.
Right now, he lay amidst cardboard boxes which really did keep out the sharp edges of icy cold from the concrete below and softened the unforgiving surface. He allowed his mind to drift, remembering the soft carpets and crackling fireplaces of his past. But mostly what he missed was the companionship, the kind words from ones who loved him. He had been young, vibrant, healthy. He had a home, a job, a family. How had it gone so wrong?
He remembered the pain of the car accident, his body attempting to shield the child, so young, so innocent. He remembered the searing pain of the collision, the breaking of bones. But mostly he remembered the unutterable anguish when he realized it had all been in vain. The child died, and he was broken. Surgery healed the break, though leaving him with a limp, but nothing had healed his broken heart. And his home life was no better. They walked around in a fog of despair, not able to care for him, much less for themselves. Fights broke out and divorce was the final outcome of lives destroyed by grief and unbearable loss.
He’d been a casualty of the divorce, unwanted by anyone, his limp a cruel reminder of their loss. They’d taken him to a shelter, but used to a house, a home, the restrictions and too close proximity of others was more than he could bear. At the first chance he got, he escaped, freedom being more essential than shelter and safety.
So now, here he was, living on the streets, fighting for every morsel of food he could find and for this little piece of pavement he could call his own. He’d seen how people looked at him, that pitying glance that slid away to embarrassment, that look of derision when they saw his matted hair, his vacant eyes, his look of defeat. Sure, some would give him a handout and feel virtuous for helping, but nobody offered him what he craved the most – a kind word, a gentle hand, a loving voice to call his name – Sam. How long since he’d been loved, how long since he’d heard anyone say his name? They judged because they didn’t know the truth – who he was before and who he’d love to be again. They saw the defeat; they didn’t see the longing. They didn’t see that with a little help, he could be whole again.
Instead, he saw the unspoken questions. Why don’t you get yourself together, pull yourself up, make your way in the world, find a home? If he were a man, they’d probably assume he was on drugs, an alcoholic or in need of a psychologist. But he was not. Homeless, yes, grief-stricken, yes. Alone and oh so lonely, yes. A man, no. With a sad sigh, Sam curled himself tightly into a ball, his graying muzzle tucked tightly beneath his tail, and went to sleep, hoping maybe tomorrow someone would see beneath his mangy appearance to the loving dog hidden, but still residing, beneath the dirt.
Kick the Bucket Book
By Marie Craig
I’ve been involved with family and friends in serious situations where communication and pre-planning are so important. When I was president of the women’s group at my church years ago, there were six deaths in the church during that time. I saw family members very upset, very angry, very argumentative with their families, and very confused about making final arrangements for their loved ones.
About 10 years ago, I compiled a notebook for me full of data and titled it “My Kick the Bucket Book.” I developed a form to be filled out and taught a class a few years ago. I thought a few people would attend, but 72 interested seniors came. One woman told me later that she wanted to discuss her final plans with her daughter, but all the daughter did was cry and refuse to talk to her about it. A website that might help in a conversation is https://theconversationproject.org/. The other persons present at the class were hopeful that their pre-planning would make their demise easier on the family. One man told me that a relative died with all their important data in their cell phone, but nobody knew the password to the phone. I’m sure that there’s a lot of scrambling to find policies, deeds, addresses, wills, and contact numbers.
I’ve put this form on the Internet for anybody to use. I’m not an attorney by any means, but the form will help your family to know your wishes and to be able to settle your estate. Feel free to print this out to share and add other facts that your family needs to know. Grief should be the only emotion at this time — not anger and confusion.
To access the planning form, use this address: https://sites.google.com/view/final-plans. Click on the word “here” on the bottom line. I know your family will appreciate your attention to details to make things go smoother.
By Gaye Hoots
Our family lost the father of my grandchildren last week. He was recovering from open-heart surgery and died in the hospital a few days before the fifth anniversary of his daughter Alex’s death. This multiplied our sense of loss although there was some consolation in the knowledge they would be together in heaven where neither would be in pain. Tom, Alex’s father, was 69 years old and had a loving and supportive family and more friends than you could count. His outlook on life was changed when Alex died.
She had struggled with drug issues for a few years and had been in rehab several times with only intermittent successes. Alex had just returned from a rehab program in California when she contacted her former dealer and then died from a heroin overdose. It was probably the dose she had been accustomed to using before being clean for six months. Her dealer was located and brought to trial by the efforts of detectives in Davie County. The dealer was given several years in jail without parole.
It is hard for someone who has never been addicted to comprehend the iron grip drugs have after the first dose. A user once told me, “You think you will die if you don’t get a fix, and I would sell my grandma or infant daughter for a fix.” It is heartbreaking for loved ones to watch this struggle and be unable to help.
The cause of death is not always the actual drug but is related to the addiction. Yesterday I heard that a friend of Alex’s had died from gunshots to his chest. He and Alex were beautiful young adults, bright, friendly, with no limits to their future. Her friend came from a family with enough wealth to send him to the best treatment programs available, but he continually relapsed. We do not know why he died, but I believe that drugs were responsible. His family is heartbroken. They, like us, did everything in their power to break the hold of this monster.
There is so much money and power involved in the supply and sale of the drugs that we will not likely ever see the supply chain broken. How do you impress on a child the importance of never opening this door? Once opened, life is never the same. These young people watched as friends who used died, but that was not enough to save them.
One acquaintance shared her story of marrying young to a man who used and dealt drugs. They had two small children, and she described going with her husband to make a delivery. The man shot and killed her husband and fired shots at her as she ran from the car. The experience sounded like a wake-up call, but left to provide for the children she continued to use and deal to support them.
She was arrested and jailed for several years. “I have nothing negative to say about the court system or jail. They saved my life, and I have been clean since,” she said. It took years to rebuild her life and regain her children, but she succeeded and warned others of the dangers.
I would encourage you to monitor your child, their friends, and activities. Drugs are available through school contacts, even at private Christian schools and youth groups in churches. I know of this personally. When you see an issue, deal with it immediately. Some stores sell THC test kits, and drug stores have test kits for multiple substances. Guard your children closely as the numbers of drug deaths are increasing every day.
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