Not the first time, but the second time she showed up half clothed. She was crying in our doorway. Her hair was cut short all over like someone was blind while using household scissors when her hair had been cut. There was a gash on her head too.
She made it to us…the place where she felt safe. “Can I please have a change of clothes? I feel so dirty. Can I wash up in your bathroom?”
“How about we do better than that and get you into a shower? Would you like that?”
I turn to the volunteer and asked if there is any room on the shower schedule? His reply, “We will make room.”
Showers are limited to 10 minutes. She took 30. When she finished her shower, she could not stop thanking us. For a moment she felt clean. She felt clean not just from the dirt that needed to be washed off her body. For a moment, she felt clean from the way she had been physically mistreated.
Before leaving for the day, this guest came again to express thanks for us being available. Thanks for the kind way she was treated. Then she began to try and explain to me how hard it is to be in her position.
“Please remember when one of us does not act nice, it may be because of what has happened to us. Sometimes, I don’t know who I can trust to help me. Are you my family? Are you my friend? Are you just trying to take advantage of me?” she told me with tears in her eyes. “I need you to know that you have a kind heart. You are a blessing. I am sorry if I ever treat you badly. I don’t want to. Sometimes…something bad has happened to me and I don’t mean to treat you wrong.”
She went on to say that she didn’t feel comfortable being touched because of what had happened to her. What happened next took me by surprise. With tears in her eyes, she asked me for a hug. I thought she would never let go of me. We hugged and cried, cried and hugged.