Alene’s week began with an unprovoked verbal assault by a stranger on the street. She was very shaken — and has not really recovered from it. I saw it of course — and I never really felt she was in physical danger — but it was delivered with such hatred, it has clearly torn into her soul — and mine.

At the end of that day, as she waited for a bus home, she watched a homeless woman begging for money at the bus stop. We’ve seen her many times over the years, and it’s obvious she’s an addict. But on Monday afternoon, she was especially desperate. It was pouring with rain and the wind was picking up. She was dressed in just an old jogging suit and tattered sneakers. At first, Alene politely declined to give her money. But watching this lady plead with one person after another, sobbing and crying in the rain, became too much to bear. Alene stepped into a nearby sandwich shop so that she could pull out her wallet in relative safety. She took out a twenty and went back out onto the street to give it to the lady — telling her to “buy whatever she needed.”

At this point, Alene’s bus came. Once she was seated, she remarked to me that she didn’t care if the lady spent the money on drugs. “If I were her, I’d want drugs too,” she said. I couldn’t argue with that.

She’s been listening to archived episodes of the Drabblecast podcast on the bus — and a couple of them have touched nerves and made her tearful.  Alene is always very sensitive and easily moved — but the verbal attack seems to have ripped open her soul to let the world’s misery pour in unchecked— swamping even my signal, which is making it hard for me to comfort her — although she is paying attention to me. She just can’t feel my presence as clearly.

We haven’t really been through anything like this before. I’m confident that the rip will heal, and Alene will return to her more usual happy self — and I think she might just find she’s toughened up a bit!

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