We went to Las Vegas to celebrate my husband’s grandmother’s 90th birthday a decade ago. Rose Aline loved Vegas, and until the day she died she played cards on a daily basis. Some people are just born cool.
I was born uncool, and so what I saw in Vegas was not the excitement or the fun or the buffets. I saw the homeless. The decaying, broken homeless who were so far past caring they just sat there on the pavement, baking whatever limbs they had left. If everything is more extreme in Vegas, so too are the homeless.
When I see the homeless, I don’t think of drug use or bad choices. I think of their mothers. These people with skin rotting off their bodies and holes where we are accustomed to seeing teeth, these people were babies once. Small, whole, adorable babies. They came with a new-baby smell and a clean slate of potential. Someone loved them. Perhaps the person who loved them also broke them, but at some point, their baby beauty wooed someone, and that someone loved them.
Then life tore away at their flesh. Life is painful, difficult, complicated, and raw. Even in the very best of circumstances, just being human can rip at your gut and leave you hollowed, gasping for air on the floor of existence. Being human is hard. Really fucking hard. Any day that we put out more love than we absorb pain is a win. That’s the best we can aspire to.
People sometimes tell me I’m non-judgmental. I do not think I am particularly so. However, when I hear about your house in foreclosure, your kids taken away, your marriage in shambles, or your children cutting themselves, I try hard to remember that you—like everyone else—are struggling to put out more love than you’ve absorbed in pain today.
When you lie on your bathroom floor, dead with a needle in your arm, I try hard to remember that you were once somebody’s baby.