Despite all my blessings, I’ve always yearned for more friendships. That is one of the selfish reasons that I have continued to perform homeless outreach in the streets of Chicago with my family. I wanted to impress people into being friends with me. I sought this friendship from past school friends from my hometown, colleagues from work and new relationships within church. But these never materialized the way that I had hoped; and this has made me sad. I’ve prayed many of nights while doing outreach for more friends. And until last night, I didn’t realize that my prayers had been answered all along.
Sam, with a bald head and swollen hands, is suffering from T Cell Lymphoma; he receives treatments at Northwestern several times a month and lives on a path of concrete in Lower Wacker Drive. In order to stay alive, he takes a cocktail of medications including cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, L-asparaginase, methotrexate, prednisone, and, sometimes, cytarabine (ara-C). And because of the risk of spreading to the brain and spinal cord, a chemo drug such as methotrexate is also given into the spinal fluid. He does this while living on the street and panhandling for food and money.
And after seeing him for the seventh time in six months, he also revealed that he’s looking for friends; and is lonely too. Sam and I talk as effortlessly as though we’ve known each other for decades and sometimes start and end conversations in unison. Sam was in need of blankets, food, medical supplies, socks; and some good friendly conversation.
If a true friend is someone who can see the pain inside of you and knows the truth about you, even whilst fighting their personal demons; then you’ve found another true friend. It’s a beautiful thought to know that the same people that I’m being called to serve are the very friends that I’ve been searching for.