Just spent a few days with the gay husbands… as is my privilege.
On Monday afternoon, Mikey got a call from a long-lost family friend. Her mom was in trouble and she couldn’t reach her on the phone, would he go and check on her? Mikey asked me to go with in case she was indisposed and/or would rather a female presence.
Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw.
For starters we couldn’t get into her house. She could hear us and we could hear her, but she couldn’t get to the door. Mikey and J spent the better part of an hour trying to gain entry and assuring her we were not going to leave her lying there, no matter how many times she told us to go. Eventually we called a locksmith.
The image of her grey, red-rimmed eyes, looking out from a defiantly strong face trapped in her broken body will stay with me for a long time. She was surrounded by her own mess, naked, lying across the threshold to her bedroom, she had survived on long life milk for 10 days.
Her house was a mess of proportions I have never seen in my life. Rats, cockroaches, rotting food. The house and the human being lying on the floor screamed neglect. But I saw angels that day and in the days that followed. J called an ambulance and sorted out her medical insurance papers getting her admitted to a hospital, Mikey spoke to her and laughed with her and loved her and I cleaned her up, bathing her as best I could on the floor, we helped her brush her teeth and got her dressed. Mikey went with her in the ambulance after we secured the house and packed her overnight bag. J and Mike went back the next day and completely cleaned out her house. They washed curtains and bed linen, picked up dead rodents and insects, threw away rotten food, they scrubbed, cleaned and polished. Mikey has been to see her in the hospital every day.
As I watched my angel friends in action, I was struck by the realisation that there are no books here at the seminary that can prepare hearts for love and compassion like I saw in these two people this week. Strong and kind, selfless and broken-hearted at her pain, Mikey and J reminded me that true love for another human being is not something that can be taught. Seeing J comb an old woman’s hair so that she could still look her best in undignified surroundings and hearing Mikey, gently but firmly, tell her he was going to take care of her no matter how many times she told him to leave her. That is love. Pure and simple.
In some ways, it was distressing to think that perfect strangers were all she had to help, but at the same time I know no other human beings who could have done what my best friends did this week and have done it so beautifully.
I am so proud of them, of their capacity for love and their capacity to just do what needed to be done.
True heroes are hard to come by and yet I know two. I can call two of my closest friends the most extraordinary heroes I have ever had the grace to meet. Thank you for showing me what unconditional love is all about. You both inspired me this week as you showed an old and neglected lady that God cares. God cares through the people who choose to respond to God’s call for mercy.
I love you.