Before I go to bed, I have to share an inspirational story. About a year ago I met a lady that within a week lost her significant other, wrecked her car, and found herself struggling financially. She took a lot of time off of work, and her worked didn’t file her bereavement paperwork correctly, so she had to money. She was sad and desperate, and she found herself at our church. That’s where I met her.
She knew no one. She was pretty shy, so her significant other was her only real friend. All of the other people in Highlands Ranch that she had known for so long had abandoned her. They didn’t know what to make of this hurting, grieving woman. I met her and gave her my phone number.
A few days later she called me crying. She tried to never ask for help, but she was desperate. Highlands Ranch is not a pedestrian friendly town, and her car was wrecked. She wanted to take her daughter to the end of the school year celebration. Her daughter had just lost her father unexpectedly, and she thought that this might be a good experience. She had no car, and she had opted into a better school in the ranch, so her daughter did not attend the neighborhood school. She knew that there was a bus stop if she walked far enough down the street that would get her closer to the school, so she woke her daughter up early and started walking. She had to get her daughter to school before the kids left for their party, which was at a park. After 45 minutes she neared the bus stop and saw that she missed the bus. She knew that it was impossible to make the party. She was desperate to give her daughter this one fun experience in a month of pain. She called me.
I found her sitting at the bus stop, crying. She was so grateful that I, a stranger, was willing to help her. She couldn’t stop crying. She kept telling me that she had it together before this all happened. Everything came crashing down around her. Her daughter only had a few days of school left. I told her I would drive her.
This gesture began a friendship. She realized that she had no real friends before, because everyone had abandoned her. She still had no money from the time she took off for her daughter and to plan the funeral. She still had to work; her significant others had been helping support her and her daughter. Now, she didn’t know if she could pay her regular bills—let alone not get paid for the time she took off. Our pastor’s family took her daughter when she was working. She felt odd relying on people that she didn’t know to help her. She insisted on cleaning my house to pay for the rides I gave her. She was a really hard worker.
Our pastor worked with her on her finances. Right before he died, her significant other had bought a car with her because he wanted her to have reliable transportation. She was paying more payment than she could afford, and the insurance was high on top of that. Now, the insurance wanted a lot of money to fix the car because she had a high deductible. It didn’t look like she would have transportation again. She rented a basement from a grumpy fellow. She was one week into grieving and all he could say was, “That’s nice. It’s your turn to buy detergent.” She was barely making it. She needed to make a change.
She never asked for anything for herself—only for her daughter. I realized that she was starving one day when I had a half eaten sandwich in my car, and she asked if I was going to throw it away. When I told her I was full, she devoured the sandwich in a way that you would only do if you were hungry. She had no money for food. Bills were coming in. She was trying to stay above water. She had no food. I told some ladies at church, and all of the sudden she had an abundance of food. Her response was tears. She couldn’t say much.
She always felt like she was a burden. She said that before this she had never expected a handout. I told her that God sent her the help she needed. She should just accept it. She was constantly trying to find a way to support her daughter for the long term. I showed her how RTD worked, and how to get to the social security office. She still would break down and cry occasionally. She lost her wallet one day. The other mom I carpool with helped her search for it. You could feel her pain just being near her. She had dropped to what looked like less than 100 lbs.
Then, one day, as fast as she came into my life, she disappeared. We figured that she went to South Carolina to live with her mom. I tried to text her, but I never received anything in reply…
….Today I was walking from my class to my office, and I decided to stop and get food at one of the food trucks on campus. I usually wasn’t on campus at that time, but I stayed to meet someone. As I was approaching the cart, I heard someone call me. I turned and was surprised to see my friend.
She looked great. She had gained a needed 20 pounds, and she looked beautiful and rested. The signs of pain and stress were gone. She was as shocked to see me. We embraced.
She said that she knew that she had to make a drastic change to emerge from her situation. She got out of her lease and moved into a women’s shelter for two months. Her car was repossessed and went to auction for $5000 less than she owed, but she kept making payments. In November she would be debt free and the loan would be removed from her credit. She got rid of her smartphone and bought a prepaid phone. She said that she realized that living in Highlands Ranch gave her an inflated expectation of normal. She broke away from that lifestyle and simplified her life. She said that she found a much cheaper place to live in Denver.
She said that the shelter was a sad place, so she used some of the little money she had to buy a membership at the aquarium and zoo. That was she and her daughter could leave the shelter as soon as they got up and go somewhere positive. She said that she also got a library card. She and her daughter were both voracious readers, and they spent hours reading.
She quit her job and decided to go back to school. Social security checks began to come in for her daughter, and they finally had enough to live on. She left her job, because she worked a night shift, and she couldn’t leave her daughter alone. She was able to find enough money to pay for school. She was doing so well that she was getting an award. She was so excited; she invited me to attend.
I was just glad to see that she was doing well. I wanted to be positive, but at times I wondered if anything positive could come from her situation. Now, I could see that what I did really helped her in a time of transition. She just needed help while she figured things out.
She told me that she wanted to go to school to be a counselor. She wanted to come along the side of people that were suffering like her. She wanted to be there for them as they went through hard times, like so many “strangers” did for her. She looked so excited about her future prospects. I wish her the best. I can’t wait to watch her accomplish her goal.