Have you ever had one of those days where you looked back on your day and wondered what you did? I’m having a day like that right now. The only wrinkle in the question and its answer is that I recall pretty much every moment of this day.
This Sunday started out normal enough as my Sundays have in recent months. I drove up to Kensington for church at Urban Hope. What I do on the way varies and is getting fine tuned in the direction of looking for homeless addicted people who I’m coming to know and care about as the creations of God who they are.
I stopped at the Wawa on Aramingo in search of some of my regulars. I’d already seen Autumn without David a few minutes earlier. It was a bit unusual not to see Mickey at the Wawa so I waited a bit. After a few minutes, I decided to drive toward I-95 and gradually make my way toward Urban Hope as I searched for anyone I knew. As I arrived at the red light at Aramingo and York, I glanced over at the Exxon Gas Station and saw Mickey with her bright red socks lying on the sidewalk next to the building
. I was in the wrong lane to get to her quickly so I had to sit through two red lights before I could get to the gas station.
At one point in that interval, she stood up, sluggishly walked to another part of the sidewalk closer to the front door and laid down on her side. This was not her normal behavior. I arrived and called out to her with no response. I parked and tried to wake her with appropriate shakes and moderately loud voice. EMT training years ago came in handy. The store owner came out and said through a thick Indian accent that she had been there for quite some time. I explained my association with Urban Hope, my working with Mickey in hopes of getting help for her and that if I could get her to Wawa, maybe some food would help.
Now allow me to abbreviate the events that happened next. In a half-slumber, she asked if she could have fries from McDonald's. I drove there as she slipped in and out of consciousness. She ate well including an Egg McMuffin and orange juice but kept falling asleep as she did so. I called one of the women at Urban Hope and we went there in hopes of Mickey wanting help after some woman to woman chat. That was not to be.
After a few minutes, it was decided that I should take Mickey back to the Wawa area since she didn’t want help. She was just as lethargic now as she had been at the beginning of this road trip. On the way back to the Wawa on Aramingo, we have to pass Episcopal Hospital. I stopped there (For people who know other aspects of my current life story, you can appreciate why the phrase ‘any port in a storm’ came to mind as I pulled in Episcopal’s driveway.)
I motioned to a Philadelphia Police officer in a white-shirted uniform who instructed a Philadelphia Police officer in a blue-shirted uniform to go into the emergency room to get help for Mickey who was wearing bright red socks. Three robed and gloved medical personnel came out and asked me a few questions about the situation. With Mickey noticeably unaware of what was going on and seemingly worse than she had been thus far, without filling out forms or asking for insurance or taking vital signs, one of the nurses gave her an injection of Narcan. Mickey promptly woke up and refused further treatment. The three nurses walked back in chatting among themselves as they did so. I reiterated to Mickey her three choices of getting help there, going to church with me or going back to Wawa. She chose Wawa. On the way back, I gently confronted her about her now obvious heroin use (not cocaine as she’d previously told me).
She acknowledged it.
For the few minutes back to the Wawa, the conversation was normal for us. I tried to assure her of God’s unconditional love for her. I pulled up to the back of the Wawa lot where we said goodbye. She got out and went on with her day. I went to church and arrived in time to hear two of the four “We’re pregnant!” announcements that were made during the prayer and praise time by four married couples on this Father’s Day.
After the church-provided lunch was over, I pulled into the Wawa to see if I would find Mickey. She was walking across the parking lot and seemed to be fine. We chatted briefly. I did not sense from her any recollection of what had transpired earlier. She told me to be safe which I found a bit ironic.
Having had a few hours to reflect on what happened today, I’m left with these nagging questions for which I’ll probably never have answers…
What did I do today on this Father’s Day?
I remember every moment of what I did but what did I do? To some degree, Mickey was having a heroin-related overdose as evidenced by the Narcan bringing her out of it. Would this daughter of some unknown to me father have died on this Father’s Day on that sidewalk if I’d not intervened? I’ll never know.
Would an unscrupulous driver have seen her and scooped her up for his or her own warped purposes? I’ll never know.
Did I save Mickey’s life? I'll never know.
Can someone tell me?
What did I do today?
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