Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sally: Still alone, still feeling lost

"Where is Sally now? Where is that person who felt so desperately alone last holiday season that she wrote to a newspaper? What has become of the 'lost soul' who was so determined to create an existence of self-worth that she shared the secrets of her inner demons?"

Thus begins a letter received this week from none other than Sally herself, the recovering sufferer of schizophrenia and formerly homeless person who wrote poignantly last year of the plight of the lonely and destitute, those who feel only "aloneness and pain" during the holiday season. Sally's heart-rending letter and the Bradenton Herald's appeal for her and the thousands of mentally ill like her brought cards, presents and $875 in contributions, some earmarked for her and some for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Manatee Chapter.

One year later, Sally reports, "I am still alone. I still feel lost in a world that no matter what I do, I just can't seem to find a place to belong, a place that accepts me, an individual, a person with many talents. A place that will place 'faith' into the potential of a person who appears like a discard, but is really a gift of gold, waiting to be unwrapped . . ."

The past year has not been a great one for Sally. It was a year of "overwhelming medical and health problems, an endless search for outside help during many days and weeks of physical disability, (while) unable to perform many basic tasks," Sally wrote.

But in those bad times the memories of last Christmas sustained her, Sally wrote, "the memories that, if only for a few temporary days, I was validated, I and my life had meaning, that people are still kind and generous and that I generated a response that in the chain of life also helped others. The few minutes it took for people to reach out to me had more power than my 'inner demons' that feel like life is not always worth living."

Surely there again is a lesson about the true meaning of Christmas in Sally's soul-baring update. Once again she speaks for legions in writing of the rejection she feels when seeking help, especially in church settings, and of trying to "not personalize how awkward it is when I show up at a pot luck asking for the leftovers."

How many like Sally have we walked past with averted eyes? How many needy strangers have we turned away with a dismissive shake of the head? How many kind deeds will we perform this holiday season that will be sufficient to "nourish the spirit and feed the soul" of a stranger, as last year's response did for Sally, throughout the whole of next year?

Sally was delighted to learn that the editorial about her plight won a prestigious journalism award for its author from the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association this fall. Though she remained anonymous, which was her wish, "my reward was the kindness of strangers, something that nourished my spirit and fed my soul." The gift of love far outlasts a bottle of expensive perfume, new tie or scarf that people spend so much money buying but which are quickly forgotten, she said.

"Although I still feel alone, and I still have yet to overcome many obstacles, deep in my heart I still believe that maybe tomorrow . . ."

The letter ends there. Maybe tomorrow, other kind strangers will again reach out, to make one sad and lonely person feel loved.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?