There are days when a simple image stays lodged in the depths of your consciousness, serving as a reminder that you are blessed beyond measure.
Yesterday, on my way to pick up my son from school, I was stopped at a light. I had Radio Disney on, only not so loud because I had a headache, and I had the opposite of a productive day because I had felt crummy all day. Headache, nausea, and fatigue. All this was on my mind as I looked up and saw someone weaving through the parked cars, asking for money.
Asking for money isn’t new at the intersections here. If it’s not the Homeless Voice, it’s an increasing number of people, some homeless, some not, asking for money. Kids in some sport raising money for an upcoming trip. Men in their thirties or forties, with signs that read “Will Work for Food,” or women, apparent immigrants, also with signs though their stories differ. I’ve seen the same women and men at different intersections throughout the city. And I’ve seen the same man at the same intersection, day after day.
Yesterday, though, I saw someone I hadn’t seen before. He was in his fifties or sixties, perhaps. Wrinkled white skin, too pale, too patchy. He had a cardboard sign hanging from his neck that covered his entire upper body: “Cancer Survivor. Need Help.” I noticed the sign first. It was different. And then I noticed his face: he was missing a nose. Or, rather, where his nose should’ve been was a gaping, red hole. I probably gasped, and I tried not to stare. But, me impacto. My health problems are nothing, nothing, compared to his. I was humbled.
The light turned green and slowly, we all moved forward, onto our lives, leaving behind the smiling, nose-less man with the cardboard sign.