The truth is we never know the impact we have upon each other. A smile, or a simple thing, like the word, “Hello,” can be much bigger than we think. In fact, the simplest gestures can in fact create the biggest miracles.
Years back, I was on call with a local service to be deployed to certain hospitals after the report of an overdose. It was late, Christmas Eve, and I was on call for the overnight shift.
Although, part of me hoped for a quiet night, part of me wondered if there would be a call —and sure enough, somewhere after the midnight hour, there was a call that came in Early Christmas morning.
She was a young woman. She was someone’s daughter. She was once a little girl too, probably did little girl things as well, like play dress up or have tea parties. She could have been involved with the girl scouts or sold girl scout cookies, and at some point, she probably believed in Santa Claus and Christmas miracles.
I arrived at the he hospital and was directed to the client, which, there she was, alert but unhappy. She was homeless. She had to do what she had to do in order to survive her life.
She had to earn her money to support herself in whichever way she could and while yes, the holiday spirit was upon us, no, the mood around her was less than kind. She was unhappy with the nurses that in some cases become callous to her story because hers was not a new. This was not her first time and nor was it the first time they saw her in this emergency room
I introduced myself and we talked for a while. I had my clipboard with me but I held off on the mandatory questioning because the occasion called for a different approach.
She was younger than me by what had to be at least, 20 or maybe 25 years. Her family was the topic for a short while. Her life was the topic as well. At no point did she agree to my services. She was content to go back to her life as it was.
She didn’t like the holiday. She even told me so. I told her my experience with Christmas and hospitals on Christmas Day.
Say what she might have, but the truth is this girl was a Christmas miracle. She could have died no different from the countless others that died from an overdose.
She could have stayed out there, in the cold. Her arm was infected from her injection site. She was very beautiful but unclean —and when I say this, I mean more than typically or physically beautiful, as in pretty, but instead, I mean this in the sense that she was a real person. And we spoke like real people speak to each other.
We put down the titles and labels of the world —we weren’t addict to specialist or anything like that. We were two people, sitting in a hospital during the early a.m. hours on Christmas Day and talking about our memories from before there was this thing called adulthood.
We went back to the times that were before and back when we were young enough to believe in things like Christmas miracles. This was the only time that I mentioned the idea of what I do.
Instead of the client being treated and discharged to go back out and pick up a bag, I was part of a service that offered the branch of treatment. This offer came with detox, in-patient treatment, aftercare, intense out-patient and simple out-patient opportunities.
In most cases, however, the client is usually unwilling to go through these ideas. In some cases, yes, there are some that are tired and beaten enough to choose help. Sometimes they choose the help and then they leave or they “A.M.A.” as we called it, which stood for Against Medical Advice.
She was not certain about going to detox. She was not certain of anything. Only thing I was certain of is it was cold outside. She was sick and withdrawal was on the way. They could offer her a bed, food, and a way down without suffering.
And there she was disheveled and dirty. But more than anything, she was a Christmas miracle. I told her this with a tear in my eye. And gratefully, She took the help—
I have no idea where that young woman is now. I was told there were a few problems. I was told that she was out and around again but eventually found her way and cleaned up.
And I don’t know if I would recognize her if we passed each other on the street nor do I know if she would recognize me. I just know that she and I will never forget each other or that night on Christmas Eve.
By the way, I received a call last night from a new friend —well; to be honest he is more like new family.
This young man was part of my Sunday morning empowerment class that I hold in a nearby facility. But he is home now and free to make the choice on which we he wants to go.
He called to say a few things, which I will keep between him and me.
All I can say is this call meant the world to me. This young man and another have made the decision to change their life. This is because sometimes, a simple thing like saying “Hello” can be much bigger than we think.
In fairness, this holiday is a tough one for me. I do what I can to navigate my thoughts away from the past years and the loss I had to accept when I was younger.
I try not to think about the year I lost my Father and the things I wish he was here to see.
Right now, I’m thinking about miracles. I am thinking about what this season means, which is more than Christmas trees and giftwrapping.
I am thinking about the Book of Luke and the part which says:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”
I have seen a lot of things in my time. I have seen good and bad. I have seen people rise up and lay down. And truth be told, along the way, I have seen miracles born unto us, on this day.
Maybe not in Bethlehem, and maybe this story might never be known or ever told again, but still —at least in my heart, I know that I have seen this, which is why in spite of my losses around this time of year, I still believe in Christmas miracles.