Three years ago yesterday, I realized that I was about to be homeless. Like, immediately.
I don't think that anyone expects to be homeless. I certainly didn't. In fact, I had just moved in with friends (at their request, I might add) in order to save money. I thought that I was being fiscally responsible, which is, let's face it, not one of the things that I am best at.
Wait, you might need some extra backstory:
These friends were going through some stuff and I let them move in with me to help them to get on their feet. I helped them to get jobs. I supported them. I didn't charge them rent, or take help paying the bills, because everyone needs help once in a while, and my default is "helper". So when they moved into their own place and had an extra bedroom and asked me to move in with them, I thought about it and then agreed -- I mean, we already knew we could all live together, since we'd been doing it for months, and I did want to save some money.
Fast forward two weeks later. The female half of this couple had been kicked out by her boyfriend and then was back one day when I got home from work. This was weird, I thought, because she didn't drive, so he would have had to go get her or she would have had to get dropped off, but either way, there had clearly been conversation that I had not been privy to. Interesting.
More interesting was that they were going to move out.
After TWO WEEKS.
Two weeks prior to that, I'd had my own place. Now I was about to have no place and, as I had spent my emergency money to move, I had no money for a new place.
Becoming homeless isn't all about being irresponsible, you see. It can also happen because you trust the wrong people. It can happen as a result, in my case, of trying to do the smart thing.
It doesn't matter how it happens. It happens.
Luckily for me, I ended up being functionally homeless but not literally homeless. I was offered a bed at a friend's house until I could find a place, which I will appreciate forever. I didn't have an address, but I had a place that Bean and I could stay.
Two weeks after I moved in, Bean died. I suddenly felt like my life was the worst country song in the world. There was a lot of crying during that time. A lot of "where did I go wrong" and "why is this happening" and "why am I so stupid" -- a lot of time spent being horribly depressed.
The thing is, though, that there is light even in the darkest of tunnels. When you are at your lowest, the helpers appear. They just show up. You don't even have to ask (but it's good if you know how). They show up with food, with money, with hugs, with vehicles, with whatever you need. They show up because they love you and because some people are naturally candles in dark rooms. They just glow, and the source of that glow is love. People near and far reached out to me in kindness and in love.
I eventually found a new place to live that was perfect for me, and people still kept helping. They brought boxes and vehicles and coffee and beer and they helped. I don't ever think I can thank any of them enough, to be honest, but I know how to repay that debt.
You repay it by paying it forward. You repay it by showing love and kindness to other people. You reach out to someone who is hurting and you offer them what you can.
You might be thinking: isn't that kind of what got you into that mess in the first place? You might be a little bit right -- hell, you might be a lot right, when it comes down to it. But honestly? If something terrible is going to happen, I'd like it to be because I tried to do something good. Terrible things happen. That's how the world is. But if terrible things are going to sometimes happen when I do NOTHING, then I might as well get myself into a pickle by doing something I feel is right.
What I really learned through all of this is that you should never give up on people. You should never stop trying to be a candle in the dark. The world is hard, and may try to extinguish your light. Don't let it. Keep fighting.
Don't lose your glow.