I have an image in my head.
Its over a month old, but it pops up again and again.
There is a small woman who is destitute and lives on the street near our appartment building.
We will call her 'Tanya.' We have helped out this lady in various ways. While out on the street in late 2008 she was helped by JSK to give birth to her daughter. We then worked to get Tanya reunited with her daughter after the baby was placed in a home by a set of social workers.
Later, after much effort, our staff were able to get Tanya and her baby into a home for women and childre. After an initially hopeful time, we saw things disintegrate and Tanya show up in her previous spot again. Her child was used to gain sympathy - and she got a trickle of gifts from appartment-dwellers upset to see the small child on the street again. Tanya had burned her bridges with the institution and was unwilling to step into other situations. She was going to stay where she was. Our final step was to have her agree to let the daughter go back to the institution Tanya had left. Many tears.
Since then we see her pottering about. Collecting garbage. Talking to herself.
Tanya has a husband who has abandonned her. She has an older son who is being looked after by the husbands family. Each time I see her she seems to have shrunken a little bit more. The constant stab of the vast sea of misery is present in this waif-like woman.
And here is the image in my mind.
I was walking by the spot where Tanya stays, and saw that she was not alone.
She was lying on her back, with her head in the lap of a young boy. Maybe 12 years old. He was holding her. She was reaching out her hand and touching him. Hugging him. The boy allowing his mother to touch him. The tiny dirty woman now childlike, with her son though young in years now cradling her with motherly affection.
A glimpse of a small ray of light in a very muddled life.