I’m lying in bed as I write this; dry and warm after having a good dinner, sleepy and contented, and feeling safe and sound. Baby Oryn is beside me whilst Harris is asleep in the next room. I feel incredibly blessed for everything I have, yet also very guilty because there are many who have nothing.
This feeling of guilt for those less fortunate, was triggered last night when I was feeding Oryn in the bedroom and all of a sudden spotted an orange sheet of plastic on the pavement of a very busy road. The carrier bags tied in knots, keeping what little belongings they had in them safe, alerted me to the fact that there may be a person under there. Sure enough after a minute we saw movement.
I was surprised so many people ignored the person walking past the bright orange tarpaulin, so I begged Kenny to run out with some tea and toast. I then stated “he can sleep in my mum and dad’s house” which is laying empty awaiting sale after an upsetting family separation. I quickly called my dad for approval of this spontaneous suggestion and after getting the go-ahead shouted to Kenny to offer the man a home for the night whilst he stood in the middle of the street holding tea and toast. It all happened so quickly and our son Harris was desperate to go along to let the man, who we know only as Bryan, into the empty, but warm, house for the night.
It felt so good to put a sad, lonely old building to good use. However, after the reality of Bryan’s situation sunk in, we were all quite quiet in thought for the rest of the evening. Harris had so many questions for us, like seven-year-olds do. “Where would Bryan sleep tomorrow night?”, “Why does he not have a home?”, “Is he sad?”, “What will he eat?” “The house is empty, so where will he sleep?” The list went on.
I told Harris to try and focus on the fact that he’d done a very nice thing for someone and to feel happy for Bryan, not sad. Although, as I sat in the kitchen that night looking at baby Oryn, I was hit with the realisation that Bryan also was once a baby. He was once someone’s child, somebody’s son and would have once have been tucked into bed at night and kissed on the forehead before nodding off to a blissful sleep.
So where did it all go wrong? I daren’t ask. I didn’t want to seem nosey, I just wanted to help him feel safe for one night. I’m not a hero, the real heroes are the incredible people out there who manage to survive alone, with nothing and no one.
I don’t want to make you feel guilty for having dry feet tonight, a warm bed to sleep in, or clean clothes in the wardrobe, all I ask is a little kindness to all the Bryans out there. Please don’t ignore them, don’t pretend they simply don’t exist. Stop, give them a hot drink and some pennies if you can, yet, most importantly, give them your time because time costs nothing.
Let’s pay it forward and buy an extra sandwich on a cold day for someone with no roof over their head. I don’t know where Bryan will sleep tonight, or the next or the next again, but what I do know is that many of us have more than we need and we could make it more bearable for the Bryans out there by sharing what we have.
As Gandhi said: “The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed. “