Friday, October 23, 2009

Tina and Liz

I didn't get to see Tina the next day because I left early to give a talk at Notre Dame. I did see Sister Catherine, though, and told her about Tina's belief that anyone who overdoses goes to hell. "Oh that old Catholic teaching," Catherine said. "I'll keep an eye out for her." Catherine spoke with the kind of determined growl you'd expect from an undaunted old nun who'd spent her life defending the poor. I hope Tina came back in that day. I was sure she'd be in good hands with Catherine.

I saw Liz for a while that morning. She was much her usual self, sad, victimized, worried about her future, eating grits, and finding some new clothes so she could begin her transformation into a loud mouthed, laughing, sexy -- albeit toothless -- woman again. Then she gave me two bucks. I'd given her a five for her three dollar copay on her zoloft prescription. She brought me change. Most of the time, Liz lives on the street. She has switched from heroin to vodka, but she is an addict all the same. She is also damaged in more ways than I can count. And she matter of factly brought me change I'd never asked for. If you've never worked with addicts, you may be wondering why I'm bothering to write this. If you have worked with people like Liz, all I can say is that it really happened. I swear it.

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