September 8, 2005
From Jackson Mississippi and UU Church of Jackson,
Tuesday at the shelter at the Coliseum I discovered there was a new area opened for people being moved from across the street at the Trade Mart. Most consider the Coliseum as preferable, so this is a good thing...only I've been told the Trade Mart has coffee and the Coliseum doesn't. Upstairs is an area with wrap around windows...a view and sunlight. Also, most of the beds were cots instead of the air mattresses down stairs. “It's getting better,” I think.
Walking along, I speak to a woman sitting on a large air mattress, and felt compelled to linger. She proudly told me that this whole area is her family. I comment on their all being together, and she nodded.
“When I saw the news Sunday morning, the Spirit told me, to get my family and go. I called them, and told them we are going; pack up quickly. And they did what I said ...they're good kids.”
She had three year old grand daughter reciting for me, and then she said quietly, “My daughter died Tuesday.”
“Your daughter,” I repeat confused, “died?”
“Yes, we were in the Trade Mart, and she was hurting so bad!”
Horror is washing over me as I stumble,” You couldn't get medical attention for her?” She tells me her daughter, had Lupus since she was sixteen, and hemophilia since birth. She almost made twenty-eight. She wouldn't let her Mother call for help.
“She just wanted me to rub her neck, and her stomach. She said, 'Oh, Momma, that feels so good.' Finally, I did call for the ambulance, but they wouldn't let me ride with her. When I got to the emergency room, they were calling a Code Blue. I prayed, 'Oh, Lord, don't let that be my baby!' but it was. They told me she was a very sick girl. They did all they could do, and they were very sorry. She was a beautiful girl. The nurses all said she was beautiful. Her hair was soft as cotton! It wasn't like that before...”
I am sitting on the floor looking up at this proud grandmother thinking how does one suffer all this dislocation and loss, and then loose a daughter you've cared for all your life, and sit here in dignity talking to a perfect stranger?
“You know what I think? I think God knew she just couldn't do this. She liked things, nice...you know? I think she just couldn't take all this,and God knew it. God knows what's best for us.” I don't know, did I take her hand,or what? We sat there in the moment, until we stiffly tried to get up. Laughing at our stiffness; she offered me her hand.
Later, as I was leaving, the Spanish speaking Episcopalian priest asked if UUCJ could “adopt” a couple from NO she was trying to help. They had been sleeping in their car every night since Sunday because they couldn't stand the loudness and lack of privacy in the Coliseum. We got them set up in a room of their own on a large air mattress. They can cut through the area where the hot water heater is into the kitchen and to one of the bath rooms without walking through the area where our other guest is. They share only the kitchen. Everything is working out beautifully, and they are so happy to have even this space as their own. They are grand, the woman told me she cried when she sat down in the bathroom. She made a point of saying how clean the restrooms were considering the numbers at the Coliseum, but no one was telling her to ,“Hurry up, others are waiting,” and she cried. Today, they are driving to the West Bank to see if they can salvage anything and will return to Jackson.
I helped another on social security sign up with FEMA online. He doesn't know what loss he has suffered as hasn't been to his rent apartment on the coast. He could use funds for living now, but he didn't qualify for anything. He will update if has loss to report later, but I thought people would get something for just being displaced, and having to start all over.
In faith, Jacqueline