Starving – September, 2018, Angela Hopson
I’m going to share a couple raw stories, in hopes that it adds to people’s perspective.
So, I worked with this man and his dog when they were homeless at the camps. Years ago. I saw them pretty regularly. At least once or twice a week. We provided food semi-regularly when they needed it. Vaccines and basic care when needed, but he did a pretty good job of her care overall. I never saw his dog in poor shape, ever.Eventually, he got housing. Moved in. I heard from him less, and only when he needed food, or when vaccines were due. I visited with them when I brought food, and they seemed well. Better than when on the streets. This was before we were super militant about the forms. So, all the needs of people and pets I kept in my head or on pieces of random paper I wrote notes on. I worked these needs along with three other jobs.
I didn’t always immediately get to food deliveries. So, if we agreed on Thursday, but when I called to drop off, there was no answer, I’d wait for him to message back. We played phone tag for about two weeks about food drop off. Maybe three.
When I arrived, he at this time had two dogs. One of them and the owner, were starving. Like literally starving. Gaunt. Bones showing. Skin not good. Dogs fixated and anxious about bags. I asked him to please take the bags in the kitchen and get them bowls and to feed them separately. He quietly did as I asked. When he came back in, I told him, as I often do when I’m going to breach a difficult honest dialogue, that I’m not good at sugar coating. I asked him how long it had been since HE ate...anything.
He broke down sobbing. Unable to talk. Just sobbing.
4 days. Last meal he split with the dogs.
Another man I worked with and I had a dialogue about hunger, homelessness, and society’s perception of the humans that are hungry. I was having some criticism and uncertainty with the work I do with people, because many folks felt like the people I work with shouldn’t have pets at all. The client had experienced a similar scolding from someone about the fact he had cats. He said that he had some women that were very nice to him. They introduced themselves because of his cats.
Said they wanted to help. They came very regularly - always bringing cat supplies. They never asked him about himself. He asked one night if they would bring some food for him, and they visited with more cat food.
He had been without food for 3-4 days. If you’ve not been hungry like that - it can be best explained by feeling the hunger in every pore of your body. Weakened. Hopeless. Agitated. Anxious. Lot of involuntary day dreaming. Aching.
He said: I said eff it and opened a can of the cat food that smelled like bacon and cheese.
That’s what he ate until he could access food again.
Life isn’t the same for everyone.