The One About a Phone Call, Cardboard, and Loving While Letting Go

The number wasn’t one I recognized.  It was a local number so there were any number of folks it could have been.

When I answered and heard that voice, oh my heart.  Relief flooded in.  A smile covered my face.  I do love that voice.

And the one it belongs to.


My friend.  I haven’t heard from him in several months.  The last I knew he was in a transitional home, sober for a few months, doing what it took to stay there and work the program.  To keep a roof over his head.  And then the communication stopped.

I feared then what I now know happened.

Mac got fed up.  He was tired of following the rules.  This is not the first time he’s left this home or another like it.  But it might be the last.  I don’t know where else there is for him to go if he wants to get off the streets again and fight the disease of addiction that is wearing him down.

But for today, hearing his voice was wonderful.  He was calling to check in.  To see how we were doing.  We talked about piano lessons and math books–he guessed correctly which of the littles wasn’t happy with their math today.  The rain has run him off from his usual “camp.”  We talked about how nice the weather was today and how his best friend JJ is doing.

But there was more.

“I just wanted you to know that wasn’t me they pulled out of the river yesterday.”

ummmmm, what?

“Yeah, they pulled some guy out of the river, and I didn’t want you worrying.”

I don’t keep up with the news as much as I should, so I hadn’t heard about this.  Mac went on to say that yeah, he was some white guy and none of them knew who he was.

Bless him.  Bless all of them.

Mac confirmed what I thought, that he had left the home back in August, and that he was sticking close to one particular area of his hometown.  He isn’t able to get around as easily as he did before, and even back then he was very limited.

Now he has a walker.  It’s one that someone donated.  He can take breaks, walking, and sit on this walker he has, and that makes getting around a little better.  He still isn’t able to make the long trek to the church where lunch is served on weekdays very easily.  Most days not at all.  So he sticks close to the convenience store.

“Yeah, a few days ago, the cops come along, and I was panhandling there.  I told ’em just go ahead and arrest me.  But they didn’t.”  He told me this very matter of factly.

“Did you want to be arrested?”  He’s wanted it before.  To get out of the weather and fight his addiction.

“No, not really. But I figured they were there, they saw me doing it. Might as well.”


“But they didn’t.  They went and pulled some cardboard out of the dumpster and made a bed for me to lay on behind the store.  I’d had a little bit to drink, so they walked me around there and told me to go rest.”

I listened, waiting.  He laughed.
I finally asked my question–“Well was that a good thing?  I mean, you were glad?”

“Heck, yeah!” he said, laughing again.  “I mean they went digging in the dumpster for that cardboard for me.  They didn’t have to do that.”

No.  No, they didn’t.  Bless them too.

Tonight I am thankful for a phone call that reconnected me with my friend, my brother.  I am learning how to do this thing called life just as he is–as we go along.  One day, one moment at the time.  And I’m learning it’s not about helping him get where I want him to be, but more about loving him right where he is and not asking him to be any different.  It’s hard, but I know now it’s what I’m supposed to do.

Just love him.

I think it’s okay for me to want something better for him, but it’s not okay for me to define what that is for him.

I can’t help but worry though.  Convenience stores are high on temptations and low on nutrition.  There’s him falling down and breaking something.  Falling down and no one knowing.  All of this rain.  Mosquitoes.  Unkind people.  Hunger.  Addiction.

But for tonight I turn to the warmth in my heart of knowing where he is, and that for this moment, he is okay.  He is my brother, and I love him.

And for a Monday, as hard as it is to leave it there, that will have to be enough.

Love to all.

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