i often imagine the worst for what happens to someone when they leave the hospital. i wrongly assume the point where i meet them is part of an immutable broken path.
16 year-old girl, second-time pregnant. rumors float that father of the baby is her father too.
13 year-old boy, bullet-shattered shoulder blade. step-mom comforts. birth-mom incarcerated.
45 year-old man, heroin-infected spine. discharged to homelessness and a "business meeting."
i fill in the blanks of their futures along the trajectory of brokenness. it's easy to do when you see others with similar pasts continuing to live in places of despair.
at covenant house i learned to imagine hope.
i knew her from the children's hospital. an infection left untreated too long. we suspected abuse and neglect. no family visited her. i imagined single motherhood. minimum wage or welfare. domestic violence. then i saw her at covenant house. a step toward hope. safe housing. job hunting. educational support. maybe a future of something other than the worst case scenario. maybe a chance at life.
i knew him from the trauma bay. bullet in his arm; no major injuries. i imagined another bullet would find him soon enough. then i saw him at covenant house, struggling to begin a new life.
i don't know what happened after covenant house for either of them. i do know that because of their courage, i am able to imagine things other than destruction and downward trajectories when i see broken points in the lives of the people i care for.