Friday, October 28, 2011

Fighting for Sara

Something happened to me tonight that rocked me to my core.  I stood, on the sidewalk, shaking and near tears for a good two minutes before I managed to plant one foot in front of the other in order to keep moving.

Let me back up a bit.  Today was a day where I took care of Birdie all day and then rushed home to walk Rupert before heading to another regular babysitting gig that takes me about thirty minutes to walk to (it's a tight fit, getting out of work at 6 and trying to make it here by 7).  I was booking it along, in the rapidly fading light of a New York sunset, when I looked up and locked eyes with a woman coming towards me on the sidewalk.  There were a good six other people surrounding both of us, walking in either direction, but our eyes caught, and without even a millisecond of conscious thought, my brain saw her and thought: eating disorder.  Her cheeks were sunken.  Her eyes were haunted.  She was clutching her coat around her in the chilly night air.  I saw myself in her, except she was much, much sicker.  Then, the unbelievable happened.  She stopped me.  She told me she needed help.  She said she was sorry, that she wasn't asking me for money, but that she needed help.  She had an eating disorder.  Today was her first day home from being in a residential facility in Florida.  She had gained forty pounds (she looked as if she weighed around 110).  Her OCD was out of control at the moment.  She had just eaten with a friend and had left the house so as to avoid purging and the door had locked behind her.  She was lost and didn't know what to do.  She didn't have a phone.  Could I please call her sister?

My mouth hung open in shock.  I ushered her over to the side of the sidewalk.  I told her in the calmest, quietest voice I could that everything was going to be okay.  I said I understood.  I said I have an eating disorder too.  I said that we would call her sister.  I dialed, and it went straight to voicemail.  She looked panic-stricken.  I asked her how far away her sister lived.  She said all the way down in Battery City and she started to shake.  Hey, I said.  It's okay.  Look at me.  It's okay.  I want you to take this money.  Go to the Duane Reede right here and get a Vitamin Water and drink it, okay?  And then get in a cab and tell them to take you to your sister's house.  Take a deep breath.  You're going to be okay.  Everything will be okay.  She looked at me and insisted that she couldn't take the money without having a way to reimburse me.  Please, I said.  Please just take it.  I want you to be okay.  I know you can do this.  You can get through this.  You can fight this, even though right now, it feels so, so hard.  We can fight together, okay?  Her dark eyes locked with mine and she bravely asked me: You said you had an eating disorder too.  Are you better?

I took a deep breath.  I'm getting there, I said.  I'm getting there.  And so are you.

I will never see Sara again.  I will never see that money again.  I could give two hoots about the money, never mind the fact that I'm dirt poor right now and I desperately needed that money.  She needed it more.  She needed so much more than I could give her.  But I'm sitting here tonight, and I am hoping with everything in me that she is okay.  That she made it to her sister's.  That she is safe.  That she believed me, even if only the tiniest bit, when I told her she would be okay.

Everyone you meet is fighting demons.  Sometimes you glimpse those demons and you try like hell to help.  Please pray for Sara tonight.  Tonight, I am fighting my eating disorder for her.  I hope she is still fighting too.


Weintribe said...

You amaze me. I'm so proud to know you through H, and continuously impressed by you both.

Sending prayers to Sara.

Noelle said...


Tears in my eyes. Holding you both in my heart tonight.

Allison the Meep said...

What an amazing thing to do for a person - a complete stranger. She's going to remember that gesture of kindness for her entire life, and probably look back on it when she's feeling really weak. You imprinted her forever.

Jessi said...

I discovered your blog yesterday, and spent all of today reading it. I adore it.

I love how honest you are about your job, your desire to be a parent, your eating, or lack there-of, and Alix.


Margaret said...

Caitlin, what an incredible story. She will always remember your random, strong generosity and faith, and I hope you will always remember giving it to her! All my best to both of you.

Cait said...

Thank you all for your kind words. I honestly feel like I didn't do nearly enough for her, but I do hope that it made a difference.

Jessi - thanks so much for reading! I hope you stick around :)