Innocent, But Not Ignorant
Posted by Bradley Stoll on Nov 28, 2019
At the Awakin Circle last night, someone spoke of their equating of ignorance and innocence. Today, that hit me in a profound way.
Above is a picture of Andy. I had made some cinnamon rolls this morning, as well as a potato dish, with the intention of offering it to anyone experiencing homelessness during this time. Andy was the first person that I met. I sat down with him and just listened as he told me his story, which included his mother and brother passing away; how his sister Susan had arranged for him to live in a trailer and how he left it, which made her none too happy. He just couldn't afford it anymore, though.
I decided to ask Andy if he'd like me to help find his sister. He said he's tried but has been unsuccessful and hasn't seen her in a few years. After giving me her name and her son's name, so that I'd know I had the right one, I headed off. A few minutes on the computer at home and I had found her...Susan had passed away December 29, 2017.
The immediate thought that came to me was that I had to tell him ... and it had to be today, as I may never again know where he'll be staying...living on the streets means keeping on the move so as to not be harassed by the authorities.
But then I was reminded that it's Thanksgiving. If I didn't tell Andy, he'd remain ignorant of his loss...innocent, if you will. Telling him would steal that from him. I thought to myself, I'd certainly want to know. And then other thoughts arose; how does one find themselves so disconnected that a sibling passes away and they don't even know, as they spend the holidays in homelessness, or even hopelessness. I don't blame Andy at all. It's not even about fault, really.
Anyway, I printed up the story of Susan's death and went to see Andy. When I began to tell him he sensed it was bad news. I first told him and then gave him the printout. Susan was 69 when she died; Andy just turned 69 a few weeks ago. He said his mother died when she was around that age, too. Andy began to think of his own mortality. I told him about my mom passing away just over a week ago. I just rested my hand on his shoulder and asked him if there was anything I could do for him. "No," he replied And then he thanked me for letting him know, saying, "it's better to know than not." Andy made it clear ignorance is not a choice he's going to make. That was definitely taken from him.
As I drove away in the car I looked back at Andy. He was unfolding the paper of Susan's death and he began to read it again. I stopped and just watched him for a second. As I snapped this photo, I still sensed an innocence in him, though. I don't know if I'll ever see Andy again. Regardless, the relationship and memories that were developed on this Thanksgiving Day 2019 will remain with me until I find my new address...and maybe beyond.