I have a story. I struggled with sharing this on a Facebook Live. Do I or don’t I? I mean, really, who wants to hear about dead guys laying on a street, right? Probably not many. But you do, ’cause you’re here and I thank you for that and I hope you share my story.
By the way, I never did do the Live.
I love to help people as much as I can. This one time I didn’t, and I should have, and the pain and grief I suffered afterwards tore me up for months after.
Life in a small town
For those of you who know, I live in a smallish town in Guatemala. Poverty is high. Domestic abuse, single family homes and alcoholism are also pretty high.
You’re probably wondering why I would live in a place such as this then. It’s also very beautiful and almost magical. Anyway…
So here, the drunks are usually staggering along some of the streets like a bad version of The Walking Dead, or passed out cold on the sidewalks. More often than not, they’re passed out. On any given day, as I walk to town, I can easily pass 3, out cold, on the side of the street. That number has been as high as 6 but as low as zero. Yup, some days, the streets are free of passed out drunks. Rarely, but it happens.
It took a wee bit of getting used to but it’s part of life now. I mean, the city I come from isn’t free of drunks. I’ve seen my fair share. They just aren’t usually sleeping on the streets is all.
Then there was this one day…
It was like another day. Walk to the gym, workout, go to the grocery store, home. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except for this guy.
Was passed out cold in front of the store I buy most of my stuff from. It was unusual for two reasons.
- There usually aren’t drunks passed out in front of this particular store or at this location in town (none that I’ve seen anyway), and
- There was something very wrong with him.
I looked at him twice. I was slightly puzzled by this guy. I went in to the store, bought my stuff and walked out. I had to stop and look at him again.
I know with every ounce of my being that something is just not right with this guy. I couldn’t put my finger on it. His breathing is shallow. I can tell but I have no clue what that means. I am no medical student but I know when breathing is shallow like that, something just isn’t right. His eyes were open but he wasn’t really looking at anything. Not quite rolled in the back of his head, they were just staring off vacantly.
There is something wrong with this guy. I know it.
Ok Iva, you’ve already decided he’s not right. Now what? What are you going to do about it? You don’t really want to try to talk to him or nudge him out of whatever coma he is slipping into because he’s Spanish and you’re English and if he can hear you, he probably will have no idea what the fuck you’re saying anyway.
So what now? What on earth am I supposed to do? I mean, there are drunks on the streets all the time. Nobody pays any attention to them. Just walk away Iva. He’ll be ok. Someone will do something, surely, or maybe even the police will come by and throw him in the drunk tank?
I walked away.
I felt helpless as a foreigner who struggles to speak the language and understand the culture. With an uneasy feeling in my heart and my stomach, I walked away. I left him there, like everyone else did.
And he died.
Typing that out right now brings tears to my eyes and makes me so fucking angry with myself. I found out through friends that night, the drunk man on the street died that afternoon.
He died. He fucking died, right there, that day.
And I left him when I had the chance to help. I knew something was wrong. And I fucking left him there to die.
We all left him. We all walked by, around and away from the drunk on the street. And he died.
What would you do?
I can go and on about moral obligations and helping the helpless ( I mean, that’s what I’m all about, aren’t I????) and stopping and lending a hand. I can go on and on. But I won’t. All the feelings of hurt, sadness, frustration, anger, disgust, etc, that I have about my self right now, I deserve.
Shame on you, iva. Shame on you!!! You let a man die! What the fuck is wrong with you iva?
You know, I get we can’t help everybody. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? When do we decide who we help and who we don’t? Is it possible to help each and every single person we meet on the street who looks like they need help?
What would you do?
What on earth are we here for?
Aren’t we here to live, grow, love, help each other, expand and just make this world, and the people in it, so much better? Isn’t that what we’re here for? If not, then why? Have we become so ignorant, selfish, scared and too embarrassed to step the fuck out of our comfort to help and love the people around us, no matter what?
These are the questions that went on in my head for hours, days, weeks and months after the street incident.
What’s wrong with you iva? You asshole!
Friends make you feel better.
As I was recounting my story and sadness to my friend John, he assured me that even if I did try to help it was mostly a lost cause. This guy had his days numbered. He had been like this for 7 years. His death from drunkenness was inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up iva. You couldn’t have saved him anyway.
Though his words were slightly comforting, I still struggle with the thought that maybe, just maybe……
We are here to help and love each other. Don’t wait for the next person to help. You help first! You go first! You be the one. Be the change the world needs. It all starts with one. You. Me. It starts with us. For the love of humanity, please, you be the first to help.
I love you ❤
Peace and Love
xo iva xo