Thankfully, Larry made it through those two nights. He came back to the shelter after the consequence was up and he apologized for his behavior.
When spring started taking the place of winter and the snow melted away and didn’t come back, our shelter closed for the season. It was tough to be there on one of the last nights and to look around at all the people who took refuge there, and to know that they would all be without a place to sleep in a few days.
I asked Larry where he would be staying after the shelter closed, and he shook his head sadly.
“I don’t know, honey,” he said, “wherever I can, I guess.”
A month or two later, I was working street outreach and I saw Larry for the first time in a while. I broke my rule on not showing favoritism amongst our clients by giving him a big hug. There is just something about this guy that is so likeable. I asked him how he was doing.
“I’m great, sweetheart,” he exclaimed.
“You look really good,” I replied, and I meant it. He was all cleaned up, he had color in his cheeks, and he was smartly dressed.
“I’m sober,” he told me, “maybe that’s why I look different.”
Tears sprang to my eyes as I congratulated him and asked how long it had been.
“Only eight days so far,” he said, “It’s a battle every day, but I’m making it.”
I told him how happy I was for him. It had been a long, hard struggle since that day at the church where he asked for help staying sober. He never was able to get into the type of program he wanted, that would have made it so much easier to get sober, but he proved that he didn’t need the help after all.
He did it himself.
After he ate his meal, he came back over to the van.
“Sweetheart, do you have a dress shirt in that van? Easter is on Sunday and I want to go to church.”
We found a perfect baby blue dress shirt for him and I happily imagined him sitting in a pew with other churchgoers that Sunday, reveling in his new sobriety, and finally feeling like he belonged.