I live approximately twelve point three miles from the massive ever so famous Columbia Gorge which separates Washington and Oregon. Oregon alone has over twenty bridges that will connect drivers so that they may reach their final destination.
I have always been in love with bridges. I love passing over them and looking down at the rippling waters below or looking out at the vast large cities taking in the depths of beauty that just continues to still keep me loving all bridges.
I learned rather quickly once I moved here that what I loved so much about every single bridge can and or will be multiple death traps for those seeking to end their lives.
During two thousand nine I become heavily involved with the local police department. I worked side-by-side with the suicide squad either trying to talk a jumper down and yet still those words often used or the countless begging and pleading never worked only to watch them jump to their death or, once a jumper was detained, I would conduct the interviews of the would be jumper asking him or her why.
From the ending of each year from October fifteenth to January eighth every single police unit within Oregon and Washington remain on high alert. Why? because that is when ninety percent of suicides will happen. I remember during two thousand ten I found myself in a screaming match with my captain of the local police force. He and I were exchanging some pretty strong words with each other arguing over what makes people jump bridges.
His theory was it was the change of both the season and the time. You see, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana are quite known for their long grueling winters. People in places such as Arizona, California, New Mexico and other sunshine states, they watch their flowers blooming in April the sun is shining and most people are diving into pools and enjoying the warmth of the sun.
Well for the people living in those four states within the Northwest we are still digging snow out of our driveways in April. Our temperatures change from mid October and will remain in the thirty two degree freezing range followed by much snow fall until early April. It will begin to become dark here around three in the afternoon and remains dark until almost eight in the morning.
My argument was because of the poverty level followed by the jobless levels within both Oregon and Washington has plagued our very states. The people in which we have saved from jumping the multiple bridges here in Oregon desperately seeking to end their lives have shared with me some of the most saddest stories ever. While I was gaining a fat paycheck and having a home filled with food and warmth, a Christmas tree lite up rounded at the bottom of multiple scattered presents for family and friends, these suicide jumpers had nothing for their kids or their spouses.
One man in particular shared with me how he worked all year long but he was living from paycheck to paycheck. He has pawned a huge majority of his personal belongings just to keep the power on and feed his kids. His wife died of cancer and while grieving of his loss he just couldn't seem to find his way back to being a father again. His depression had taken a turn for the worst and the prescribed medication he was on no longer was working. His kids were suffering in school and often tormented by the used clothing he purchased at the second hand stores never able to buy his kids anything new.
Each and every day when I was finished with work I would see before me on street corners the homeless people standing with signs begging for food often quivering from the freezing temperatures. The homeless shelters now had a waiting list and often when one was lucky enough to gain a spot in the shelter they only had temporary staying time of maybe five days. After the fifth day they had to move out and seek shelter elsewhere so that the next ban of individuals on the wait list could have a spot for a warm meal and a warm blanket. They didn't care if they slept on the floors as long as they had a blanket to keep them warm.
Some people are very blessed with their lives. They have huge homes, fat bank accounts, they can grab any jacket for warmth that they wish. They have family near by to celebrate the seasons, they get to reach over the decorative table filled with luscious foods to fill their growling stomachs aching for the smell of the delicious turkey and stuffing then cranberry sauce.
Sometimes I wonder what people would do if they woke up one morning and "POOF" everything was gone. The fancy car was no longer in the driveway, their home was no longer warm and the bountiful of food once filling their cabinets was now gone as well. Their bank accounts once filled with thousands of dollars is now only filled with thousands of pennies. What would they do, what would they do?
Would they know how to be homeless, would they have family or friends to turn to in such a horrible crisis? Ninety nine percent of the homeless people have either lost contact with their family due to drugs or alcohol or they actually have no family. Those people that we often see standing or sitting on the street corners pushing or carrying their only possessions begging for money and often get, are they using it for drug money? Probably so.
But that doesn't excuse the blessed people that will have more than these people will ever see in their life time NOW! Once upon a time these individuals used to enjoy Christmas and Thanksgiving as a young child. They were able to grab a Christmas present and rip it open and squeal with delight of the shiny new present before them even if it was just one present.
Everyone has a story I don't care who you are or what you do for a living. Everyone's story can be a story of success or a story taking one from living within a home to now sleeping under the freeway passes.
Life can turn on a dime and everyone can lose everything they have within the blink of an eye. They can go to bed one night and wake up the next day and everything is gone I don't care how careful one is when relating to their finances or how they work and save their money.
Giving of one's self is the most precious gift that one can offer another. Would I go so far as to ask if you would ever want to sit down with a homeless person and just say hi or would you be to scared of being mugged or beat to then finding your wallet gone or your purse taken from you?
I am one of those people that now live on pennies each day, each week, each month. So let's take this honesty and be real honest. I live on six hundred a month and I have food stamps in which I feed my family. After paying out my bills and taking care of what I need to take care of I will then have a total of two hundred dollars for the month to live off. I have tried to find work for months with no success.
Christmas is the time for giving, it is the time to dig deep into your pockets and help the less fortunate. I for one will pay for a meal at Mc Donalds or come home and cook a huge turkey with all the fixings and then wrap it all up and take it out so that I may feed the homeless. I fear in giving them money not because I am broke but because I choose to not let them do drugs. Or I come home and get a blanket and take it back to the homeless person to shelter them from the cold. I will give what I can and give it to someone in the worst of dyer straights then myself.
You know that you will have a car that can take to and from multiple places. You know you will have that debt card to go and swipe and buy what you desire. But to many of the homeless people didn't have a choice but we do.
Please just give this season, it will make all the difference to someone in such a far cold and hungry place. It is a true blessing to give of yourself then always taking.