Homeless, But I Know I’ll Find My Sunshine

by Joanna Piercers

I remember forcing open my simple blanket. It is light—maybe too light. But you know what they say: Beggars can’t be choosers, and I was not going to be one, not ever. I was taught better and I was not gonna forget that. And anyway, it was a small gift from a stranger, one I was not ashamed to appreciate.

One year and two days. One whole year and for some reason it feels like always, forever, as if I was made for this, for the never-ending cycles of problems. Two years ago things were different—better—but a job loss was what started it all. Then a headache, just one splitting headache, took away the only person who ever gave me hope, the one person I’d surrender it all for, the one who owned my heart: my sweet mama.

It hurt—hurts to admit that she’s gone, dead. I often wonder if there’s more I could have done, then maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today. But I didn’t fail her. I did all I could have, all for her. Draining my bank account for endless procedures, sunk in debt all for her until she … 

She held my hand close to hers, tears in her eyes and with a short dry cough everything stopped. Time, her life, and mine too. All in a month, everything I held close disappeared that day.

To the one I love, the only one I had, I couldn’t even offer her the least she deserved. A proper

burial. But she would often say there’s a ray of sunshine at the end of it all. Then again, being chased from my house without a penny, with nothing but the clothes I had on, didn’t seem like sunshine to me. In a way, sunshine did come that same day: I got a job offer. But lost it in—what? I don’t seem to remember. A friend offered me a place to crash but funny how tough times reveal what’s really inside someone and so I lost her too. No regrets really.

A week later I found myself struggling to live, struggling to have a life, and I found myself at a shelter that was later on destroyed by the rains. Gosh, I remember spiking the highest fever I’ve ever had but after that it just healed on its own because there was absolutely nothing I could do to help myself. I had no money, no home, no nothing and it’s not like I haven’t tried my luck, I have, it just hasn’t been working out.

That’s how I figured how bad life can actually hit you. At least at the shelter good Samaritans would often bring food, but in the streets you have to struggle alone. Whether or not you eat or drink, no one will care. Whether you wash up or wake up the following day with a pretense of nothing, no one looks at you because you become what everyone is used to: a beggar. Someone homeless with no hopes for tomorrow or the day after or ever.

I remember my stomach rumbling and all I can do is clutch it, pretend it wasn’t mine, force a smile and look up to the beautiful skies which never even take away the hunger, the thirst I feel. I was hungry. You could actually go a day or two or three with no food, without getting something to drink. A miracle indeed.

How the stares of passers-by break you twice, some with disgust, worry, sympathy and some can’t actually care less, thinking maybe you are at fault—reading between the lines is never in their comprehension because if they do so many stories will be different.

Taking a bath? Gosh I’d be happy to say I did two days in a row. Once in a while was a blessing. I’d rather wear the same clothes but work out a way to take a bath, learning the hard way, my daily routine.

I look down at the dirty light blanket I have on, just above me the sun begins to illuminate, passers-by, at it again. Some kids who are lucky enough are all heading to school for a better tomorrow, and me, if today is good to me, I’ll have something to eat. But a ray of sunshine is where my mind is at. I know the huge pile of papers on my left will no longer be here tomorrow. Writing was never a thought for me, but when it doesn’t feel right, I always find myself with a pen and a paper because like mama once told me, this is where I’ll find my sunshine.