“Hello everyone, thank you for coming. I see many familiar faces and a few I hope to soon get to know. Before we get to introductions, I’d like to briefly talk about why we are all here. This will be repeated information for some of you, but I know you will indulge me for the sake of our newcomers,” Sally, the center’s director and primary counselor, smiled at the dozen or so people sitting in a circle around her.
After 22 years of running the center she could honestly say that she still woke up glad to go to work every day. She was helping people; something she believed was a calling few people heeded anymore. No matter, she was doing her part; she could just look at the faces of the people around her to see that. Since opening the Healing Hands Crisis Center, Sally had helped people from all walks of life deal with the harsh blow that life had dealt them and coached them in ways to overcome. Focusing on the emotional, mental and sometimes physical effects of various crises- natural disasters, war, the loss of a loved one, Sally had helped hundreds of people back onto their feet.
After finishing up her introduction on the mission and purpose of Healing Hands, Sally opened up the floor for the group to begin their introductions. One of the veterans of the center, a sad-eyed black man whose voice sounded like his esophagus was lined with gravel, stood up and began speaking. “Good afternoon,” he ground out, “My name is Leo Hartwood and I’ve been coming to the center for about six months now. It took me a long time to face my troubles and to seek the help that Ms. Sally and this wonderful center now provide me. After losing my beloved wife, Barbara, to throat cancer last February and not one week later discovering that the same beast of a disease was living in me as well, I did what most men my age do, I drank. I drank until I couldn’t hurt anymore. And after that, I drank some more. If it wasn’t for the good people at the center, I can tell you with a straight face, I would be dead right now. Sally has helped me put down the bottle and even introduced me to a fancy doctor who is helping me fight the cancer. I have a long road to travel, but now…I know I’m not alone in my journey,” Leo sniffed loudly, and plopped back into his plastic folding chair.
“Thank you, Leo. You are truly an inspiration of what the human spirit can endure,” Sally smiled before turning back to the group. “OK, who’s next?”
“I’ll go,” a petite, frail looking girl of about twenty stood up. “Hello everyone, My name is Francis Vernon, but everyone calls me Frankie,” she said in a voice just above a whisper. “This is the sixth time I’ve come to the center and I believe it has helped me tremendously. Just so everyone knows, I am one of the survivors from the mass shooting that happened a few months back at the youth camp. Things have gotten better slowly for me, since coming here. I can make it through most of the day now without thinking about that day, but I still need some help with the mental techniques Sally has taught me to deal with the panic attacks. I’m making progress though, and I don’t know what I would do without this place,” she smiled meekly at the group and fluttered back into her chair.
Introductions went on for another ten minutes in much the same way, until finally there was only one person left, a new face that Sally had not seen before. Looking around, as if to make sure it was his turn, the newcomer stood up and began to introduce himself. “Uh… hi, there. I… uh, my name is Jetson Hinton and this is my first visit to the center. I wasn’t really sure if this was the right place for me when I can for the meeting, and after hearing everyone’s story, I’m afraid I might have made a mistake,” Jetson made to leave the circle formed by the plastic folding chairs and their burdened occupants.
“Well, just a minute there Jetson. I think this may be just the place for you,” Sally was quick to dissuade his departure. She had seen it before, a proud soul hoping to find some solace only to let his ego keep him from it. She wasn’t about to let this one go without a bit of fight… it was for his own good. “It seems to me, that you are carrying a very heavy burden, I can almost see it pushing down on your shoulders. I know how it must feel, too big, or too overwhelming or maybe too embarrassing to share. But I can tell you, Jetson, the relief that comes once you’ve unloaded that burden and asked for help is something you can’t even imagine,” she smiled warmly at the young man who was a little ragged around the edges.
“I don’t know…” Jetson made one last protest.
“I do. It’s time to ask for help, Jetson. Tell us, what is your crisis?” Sally waved him back into the group and sat down in anticipation of her newest member’s tale of woe.
“Ok, but I still think this may be a mistake. It happened at lunch. I never thought I would be faced with such a terrible decision. The pressure of it was something I wasn’t sure I could bare. I mulled over my options for what seemed like days. I know now, that it was only minutes. Funny, how time loses meaning in moments of crisis. Should I leave or should I do the responsible thing? I just couldn’t deal with it. Which is why, I guess, I ended up here. So hopefully, one of you can help me. Should I go with my friends to the movies and skip out on work? Or, should I take a rain check and go back to the office for the few hours left until quitting time? Ugh… I just hate crisis of conscience don’t you? I mean it’s actually kind of giving me a tummy ache,” Jetson grimaced a little as he patted his midsection.
Sally sat stunned by what she had just heard, as did the rest of the group who all had their mouths gaping open in disbelief. “Maybe for the first time in my career, I find myself saying something I thought I would never say to someone seeking counsel from this center. I guess I was wrong. Mr. Hinton, GET. OUT.”
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Don’t you hate those tough decisions? After enjoying a bit of a long lunch today with my friends Jax and Jessica, it was revealed in short time that they would be following our lunch date by taking in a movie, as neither of them had to work for the rest of the day. I, of course, did. And, I am not ashamed to say, I was very tempted (finger on the dial button tempted) to call my boss and ask for the rest of the day off so I could play hooky with my friends. Man, being a responsible adult really blows sometimes. Eventually, the right decision prevailed and I bid my friends a sad adieu and headed back to the office. Stupid scruples. Next time girls, next time.
TWO: One of the crises mentioned refers to the tragedy currently unfolding in Norway. Reading about such senseless (and insane) killing is something I wished I had the ability to skim rather than delve into all the sad details. But, I, like many, am fascinated by stories like this. What leads someone to act out in such a way? Were there signs? Could it have been presented? How did it unfold? What were the stories of incredible human fortitude and bravery? On and on…
Love & Squirrels.