Acts of Kindness that Changed my Life
When I was fifteen I was registering for the new school year. Now, this was at a Catholic school. And I really hated going to school at that time. It felt really oppressive and stifling and suffocating. I just, I was standing there in my school and I couldn't bring myself to go on. I just, I'm not quite sure what I was thinking but I just felt the overwhelming need to get out of there, get out of there, get out of there. I felt like God Themselves was pushing me away. So I left. I walked out of the school and I kept walking and I kept walking until I found a strip of green flanked on one side by a wall and on another side by a large and busy road. I rested there for a while. There were mosquitos, but it was okay.
Eventually a man named Michael came upon me. He was homeless and he was walking down that strip of green by the road. He had come back from visiting his friend. We talked. We talked a lot. About his life, about my life, about our pasts and our histories and our hopes and our dreams.
He was really sweet. Incredibly sweet. He was so kind. He had been bullied throughout his school years for being a redhead, and he said that he understood that I was struggling with school. He said that bullying was terrible and that no-one deserves to get bullied. He said that he hoped all young people could grow up healthy and strong. I felt more comfortable talking to him than I did with most of the people in my life. It felt like he really understood me and we really had a connection.
He felt like he really wanted to get to know me, and I really wanted to get to know him back. It felt like he really cared about me.
He was struggling with addiction to methamphetamine, and he had been struggling with it for many years. Therefore he was on and off the streets for many years. It was a hard life for him. A really hard life. He had tried for a long time to beat his addiction. He was still trying to beat his addiction. He wanted to go work out in the country where he couldn't get drugs. I told him that I wished him good luck.
He told me to never do drugs, no matter what. He told me that they're never worth it and he didn't want me to get addicted too.
He also told me a lot of other things. He sympathized with me and empathized with me. I told him that I wanted to quit school and run away from home. I told him that I was running away from home. He told me that school was hard, he knew school was hard, but I had to keep on going and trying and I had to stay strong. He told me that I'd finish school eventually and then I could live my life. He told me to keep trying. And because of him I did.
He told me that everyone has their moments and everyone is allowed to have their moments. And I was having my moment right now. But I needed to stay strong and go home so that I could build a good life for myself, so that I could live my life freely when I was older and got the chance to. He told me that I needed to stay strong and get through it, and he told me that I could.
I feel so grateful for everything that he told me and everything that he helped me realize. I am really grateful for the strength and the inspiration that he gave me. And I'm really grateful for everything that he taught me. Without him I don't think I could have made it through my childhood, and I don't think I could have graduated high school.
I wonder how he's doing now. I hope he's alive. I hope he's doing alright, wherever he is.
There was another time I ran away. I think I was either fifteen or sixteen. I don't know. I was walking through the city, trying to get to a homeless shelter. Because I was homeless now. I didn't know how to find a homeless shelter though. I was dealing so many curling and sparking emotions all throughout my mind and my heart. I felt completely unreal and more real than I had ever been, both at the same time.
Anyways, I met another homeless man. His name was Eric I think, though I'm not sure. He was Indigenous, I think. He was going to pick up some clothes. I didn't tell him where I was going. I don't know why. But we talked.
He was a really sweet guy too. He put his cigarette out when he realized that I was uncomfortable with him smoking near me. He was talking to me about how he taught the women at the homeless shelter how to fight and to defend themselves. He was talking about problems that he had with the police and with going to jail even when he was innocent. He made the most out of life though, the most that he could, even though life had given him so little.
He really helped me to feel comforted and warm and brave. He helped me to feel like I was not alone. And he made me feel like I had support, like I had people who cared about me, and like I was able to face the challenges of life, whatever they turned out to be.
The third time that I ran away from home was the the most acute and emotional time. I was sixteen. I had made up my mind to leave my family and all their expectations and all their misunderstanding and all their pressure no matter what. No matter what. I knew I needed to get to a homeless shelter, I couldn't just sleep on the streets like the previous times. So I asked some people where the homeless shelter was.
They directed me to an address and I went to that address, walking across the whole city, almost delirious with pain and hope and fear. It was incredible, that journey. I learned things that I will never forget in my life.
By the time I got there, to the address that I had been given, it was already late at night. Perhaps eleven. Anyways, the building was not a homeless shelter after all. It was a social housing complex. The girl at the front desk of the lobby was really kind to me once I had explained my situation, but she said she could not help me and all the homeless shelters were closed by then, since it was so late at night.
A woman, Audrey, had come to the lobby and she was listening. She said that I could stay with her for the night. I thanked her profusely and she lead me to her room.
It was just one single small room that she lived in, with a radio and a fridge and a table with two chairs and a small bed. It had a little bathroom to one side of it.
She welcomed me and we talked and we shared each other's stories. She offered me food but I didn't take it. She was already so poor and I didn't want to impose on her. Later her husband, Dale, came. And he welcomed me as well. We all talked.
Audrey had been homeless as a teenager, and she had been homeless for many years. She had suffered a lot in the homeless shelters. And she was now taking things day by day. Dale had been a social worker but he lost his job and he had also struggled with homelessness in his life.
They both talked to me about their religion. Audrey was a Christian, and she was a very devout Christian and believed in God very much and believed that God loved us all and that there were angels protecting us all. Dale was Cree, and he was a knowledge keeper who helped a lot of people with their faith, especially people living on the streets. He said that miracles happened all around us. Like, how trees make oxygen and we breathe.
They both really made me feel seen and loved and supported. I felt like they were my mom and dad. I felt like they were a mom and dad that I had never had before in my life. I felt, that night in that tiny single room, that I was home. That I was home for the first time that I ever was in the entirety of my life.
Audrey and Dale were so very human. They were so intimately, infinitely, undeniably human. And yet they were angels, they were more than angels. They were completely divine. They were more than divine. They seemed to me at that moment to be more holy than Jesus, who I had learned so much about in school.
They let me sleep on the bed and they slept on the floor. I tried to tell them that no, I was alright sleeping on the floor and they could take the bed. But they wouldn't have it. They absolutely would not let me do that. And so we slept. And Audrey kissed my cheek and she prayed for me to have good dreams, not bad dreams. And it was so sweet.
The following day I asked to be taken to a homeless shelter. Audrey and Dale told me that I didn't have to go to a homeless shelter, I could live with them. But I insisted. I didn't want to impose on them. They had already given me so much kindness and they themselves had so little resources.
Dale gave me some clothes that he had got from somewhere. They didn't fit me exactly but they fit enough. Audrey gave me a little angel carving, which I still wear to this day. It was made of metal, with an angel on one side and the word Hope on the other side. She said that I would always have my guardian angel looking after me. She also gave me a jacket. I tried to not take it but she insisted.
They told me that I would always be welcome in their home.
Dale walked me to the homeless shelter. He made me promise to not ever take any drugs no matter what.
When we got to the homeless shelter, a lot of the people there, who were sitting by the walls, knew Dale and were very friendly with him. One man offered us some donuts. Dale took one but I didn't. I said that I didn't feel like eating. He took me to the social workers there.
And that was the last time I ever saw either of them again. But everything that I learned there and everything that I learned from them I will always cherish and I will always treasure forever and ever. And I hope that you can learn as well, from all that they taught me.
Another act of kindness I can never forget was when a man offered me money on the bus. This was last year.
I have an eating disorder. It's been good this past month but it's usually not great. Now the reason I don't eat is very complicated but it basically boils down to the fact that I can't eat when so many people in the world are hungry. And since I'm so concerned with the people who don't have food, since I'm so concerned for the people for whom not eating is not a choice but is rather forced on them, I also hate wasting food. I hate wasting food a whole lot. So when I see food on the ground or whatever, and the food isn't like rotting or destroyed or anything, I usually just eat it. I've done this with chocolate, with candy canes, with candy, with a whole bag of delicious Japanese food from a restaurant, with a piece of cinnamon toast, with apples on the ground. I know it's really weird. But I just can't waste food. I just can't.
But anyways, I was on the bus and there were some chips on the seat beside me. There were a bunch. And they weren't dirty. So I just ate them. One man asked me if I was hungry. I was a bit embarrassed and to save face I told him that I hadn't eaten since lunch yesterday. This was the truth. At that point in my life I was living off of maybe one meal a day. Anyways, he offered me money so that I could buy food.
I really tried to tell him that I was okay, that I didn't need it. But he was so insistent. He wouldn't take no for an answer. So I took it and he was so super sweet. I thanked him profusely.
Anyways, he was in his late middle ages, and was probably Indigenous, and his clothes were really worn so he probably didn't have a lot of money to spare.
He talked about how all the other people were looking at me weirdly and he thought they were all wrong to judge me and they were all wrong to be looking at me like that. I thanked him profusely and he said that he had been taught by his elders and stuff to always help people and to care about people who were hungry.
He told me "Welcome to my, no, welcome to our country."
I saved that money and donated it to mutual aid to help the homeless.
So yeah, he was another angel on this earth who I had the fortune of coming across.
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