She stood on the northwest corner of Yellowstone and Alameda. I spotted her several days ago, and my heart ached for her plight. The girl seemed so young—close to my own daughters’ ages, and no one appeared to stop and help her.
“You know how they are,” I heard a man say moments after I entered a nearby grocery store. “Homeless people just buy drugs with the money.”
I had to turn away as tears filled my eyes. It’s not my place to judge why people are on the street. BUT if I have something to offer them—something that will help, no matter how small—it IS my place to give help when I’m capable of it.
Today I saw the girl again. “Mike, I can’t stop thinking about her. We HAVE to do something.” So we went into Winco, bought a chocolate rose and a small unicorn charm, and pulled out $20.
“A unicorn?” Mike asked, and I simply nodded. It just felt “right.”
After we had everything arranged, we pulled into a parking lot, and even though the girl had been over 15 feet away moments before, she turned as if expecting us.
“We bought you something!” I wanted to hop out of the car—I was so excited to meet someone new and hear her story! But I ended up moving slowly. Sometimes I forget how much my body has changed because of the cancer. The doctor said even if I do get over this…someday, my bones are like Swiss cheese with holes from where the cancer has eaten through them.
“We got you a chocolate rose, water, this…” I handed her the money, “AND a unicorn charm!”
Up close, the girl was honestly so beautiful with the most wonder-filled eyes. Dirt graced the left side of her face, and her clothes looked tired and worn. But despite that, I felt she had the soul of Peter Pan!
“A unicorn?” She exhaled with disbelief.
“Yes!” I said. “You know what unicorns stand for?”
She shook her head.
“They’re rare and special. They’re unique and wonderful. They’re…just. Like. You.”
“I could just cry,” she said, her voice breaking. “This means so much to me.” Then she told me and Mike all about her battles: how she’s fought disease and sickness since she was 10 months old. Now—despite overcoming so much—she’s gone through even more as a young adult.
I thought of the man in the store from days before, the man who judges homeless people. He had no idea what this girl had gone through—none of us really do except her. After all, we’re each fighting battles that no one else truly understands the way that we do. What’s the point of trying to pull each other down when we can lift one another up?
After she finished her story, I told her about my fight for life. “Doctors told me I had two years to live. But it’s almost been two years, and I might be getting better.”
Her eyes widened. “But you look so healthy.”
“Life can be surprising, right?!” I said. “But the point is that if I can get through what I’m going through—against all odds—then you can too!”
She clutched the charm really tightly and then gave me the biggest hug. “You’re gonna be okay,” I said, then followed with, “I just know it. I’m Elisa, it’s so nice to meet you.”
“I’m Makayla,” she said. “It’s just like Kayla with an ‘m’ and an ‘a’ at the front.”
Before we could go, I looked over at her. Makayla seemed somehow different from moments before. She glowed, practically looking like a princess, a mythological unicorn that everyone hopes to someday meet at least once in their lifetime. I felt so honored!
“You know what,” she said, “I’m gonna wear this unicorn! And every time I hold it, I’ll think ‘Elisa is blessed!’ You’re gonna get better. You just have to.”
She faced so much—a lot more than what I’m going through. And yet she had the kindness…the strength…the fortitude to think about me and my struggles. “I will be praying for you every day, Kayla with an ‘m’ and ‘a’ in front of it.” I waved, smiling.
“Sometimes life can feel hopeless,” Mike said,” but pretty soon you find the light…just around the corner.”
We got into our car and drove off. “Are you okay, sweetheart?” Mike asked.
“Yeah, I just feel so bad for all of the hardships in our world.”
As Mike drove, I turned on my phone and saw a post someone had written, “irate” about a celebrity breakup. I shut off my phone and looked at the clouds through the windshield. Life…can be so complex, so beautiful yet strange.