You are my Sunshine

The list of names being read on the longest night of the year was as chilling as the weather. Two hundred and seventy names were read out loud. Names of the homeless who died last year without shelter in King County. Beautiful souls tragically lost to poverty, violence, neglect, and abuse. I staggered and almost fell over when I heard her name being read.

 I first met her over twenty years ago in a homeless youth drop-in center. She was one of the first street kids I really got to know. Her life and story were my introduction to street culture. She was fifteen and working in the sex industry. Her boyfriend was pimping her. He would eventually go to prison for second degree murder. She would attend our street church and pray with us. She told me a story once about how God saved her. She got in a car with a date and realized he had recently threatened to kill her. She began to pray, and the door of the moving car opened. She rolled out on to the highway unharmed and safe. Her mother died drinking herself to death at a bus stop. I was honored to be asked to facilitate the memorial service. All of her mom’s friends were in attendance and extremely inebriated. One of the guests stood up with a plastic dancing sunflower plant that sang, You Are My Sunshine. I took myself seriously back then and even wore a blazer with a tie. I met her sister who was in community college and wanted nothing to do with my now deceased friend. So many people I knew as homeless kids have passed away. If you grow up on the streets and are alive in your forties you are a miracle.

A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:18

Michael Cox

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