When did I become aware of the street kids living in the shadows of downtown Orlando? As lead trauma nurse I was used to assessing the kids that came in with various issues but my attention was drawn one night to a large noise erupting from one of the rooms. I saw Randy the charge nurse move towards the yelling, I moved to follow checking my gear knowing not to have anything sharp like a needle that could be used as a weapon, I dropped my side pack to run to help. The in's and out of knowing who to remain safe in an ER, any ER, especially one in a section of town most people just talk about not ever visit. I moved behind Randy to get a view of the noise and saw two kids with torn clothes on, dirty beyond everyday, " oh Stevie fell of his skate board", the kids stood pushing the police even with one wrist secured by handcuffs to their wheel chair. They had been picked up while fighting other kids who were across the ER, quiet , I thought these guys are "goonies" as they had multi colored hair, with torn clothing. They pushed against Orlando's best swearing, bleeding as apparently someone had used a blade in what I called, " slice and pay the price ", I watched as Randy grabbed one kid by the clavicle nerve, " dude that is enough", as the kid fell back into his chair.
The cops just laughed as they informed us , " just dirty homeless kids running the streets high on PCP robbing folks", one of the kids stood up, " that's a fucking lie you prick", and was promptly pushed down. I moved forward holding out my hand, " let me see your arm you are bleeding?", the kid sneered at me trying to flick blood in my direction, meeting Randy, who took a gauze bandage to hold the child's bleeding arm, " not today hero, you don't hurt my ER staff," motioning for me to move forward, I began to clean the injury.
Not the first time I have witnessed someone try to use their own blood as weapon, I help pressure on the kid's skinny arm, noticing how bad his body stank, I know my face gave away my surprise.
This story has a new beginning:
When people want the truth ? They want their version of truth, the one they can swallow and not vomit back up, I looked at the kids thinking, " how did they end up like this?", just like every other hurt damaged soul that roams the night looking for rest, the unloved howl their late night life regret.
Have you ever walked into a room and know that no matter what you did not one person there would accept you ? Ever been so hungry all your thoughts are jumbled so much that when you speak nothing coming out making sense? Ever know that you will always be outside of society because you were never taught the skills on how to fit in? Cling just to what you know and learned by life, " no one loves the poor kids, and being nice to them is just an act". Have you ever felt the pain of a child who's parents abandoned them in a store acting like they never knew you? Where do you go from there? Ever drop your guard just once to have all those lessons shoved back down your soul? Cursing yourself for thinking the thoughts of an average kid? Felt the darkness of that last push that makes you into someone you swore you would never be? Cold and knowing the world holds nothing for you? Ever lose your dreams because other's thought you were not good enough to have a dream of your very own? Ever be the poor good kid girl that everyone labeled a slut because everyone knows poor kids have no sense of decency? Ever feel that dream die and anger grow in it's place? Ever be so angry because all you want is a chance but the "full belly kids make a kite of your dreams and laugh as you watch them cut the string to let the very thing float away forever gone? Ever wake up and find yourself so totally not in love with everything you once counted on? Ever have hurt so big that it tries to murder you as you sleep? Been so dirty from being homeless you just give up trying?
WE ...will find what we forgot ....cause that is Jesus's way.
I felt the rush of remembering I was busy forgetting as I looked at the kid who looked starved, dirty and afraid, and I saw my own childhood, and dropped my eyes, feeling shame as I was a shame of someone living in a world secretly I knew never would accept me.
I looked at those kids and understood, I saw them, and I saw myself, I got it. I squeezed the kids arm and whispered, " shut your mouth your not the only street kid who was or is angry", and as if I had slapped him he looked at me, letting me clean his wound.
So it began the strange yin and yang of my friendship with the "Underground Kids"
I accept that I will always be a very talented person who lives as a wounded tiger, pacing waiting for the next wound, and the only one's I relate to are the " sideline people that society let's suffer" , knowing I am not worth loving or showing simple kindness to , and this, hardens my soul, forever changed, I cannot go back. Maybe I not supposed to?
The truth is? Just one too many pushes, rests in my heart, that part of me is gone who thought for a simple moment I could have the same opportunity as everyone who comes to Hollywood, but no, that was taken from me because everyone knows the poor kids are nothing but a joke.
I was meant to experience this, to revisit all I had thought I had buried, but the Lord has another goal for me, as I watch injustice grow around me, I feel a new strength grow out of the flames , a new creative direction.
I studied psychology because I wanted to help the "Underground Kids" who aged out of Foster Care, we lost kids know each other, maybe cause we all are deep down goonies ?
Kids might age out of Foster Care but they don't age out of needing love and emotionally security.
At night I pray " Lord I am still out here and this still no way for a kid to grow up ? Where's my childhood? " I wake just as silly as the day before, because, like a child who ate too little I want to see it all.
You too? As time went by I met many Underground kids, many in trouble and hurt from living on the streets, and some would cry to me saying . " they just wanted to be loved by their parents", some did not make it out of the trauma room, and many would , "hoot and whistle " their street sounds as I walked to my car early in the near start of the day.
Be careful of the " Underground Kids", cause they would slice your throat open for your purse.
There's a dead kid in trauma bed one:
The level one alarms sounded, as the flight team radioed in their report of the 13 year old male found unconscious in the family shack of migrant workers, I rushed to the roof top feeling my scrubs define the out of my body, the helicopter wind chimes pushed me down twice as I ran, to greet the team off loading. I looked and saw a child who neared death, they had started CPR on him as I was pulled on top of the gurney to start compressions, calling out my count. We rode the elevator down to the trauma bay the doors bursting open with me on top of a child pushing his chest to keep his heart pumping, soon surrounded by the rest of team.
We all worked for over one hour, I would not budge off the child, pushing his heart not once did I stop or miss a beat pulse with my fists, the lead trauma doctor, said , " let's call this, let him go" every one was asked personally if they were ok with it , and then it came to me, I looked down on his face and yelled, " NO NO keep on!!" cause I would want that for my child. No one paused, we kept on, for another 15 minutes, we went through the call again. I thought if we keep this child Lord he will not be the same child who fell sick sleep, I bowed my eyes in the Lord's will, raised my arms, " I call it", see no one will agree until we ALL agreed.
The migrant farmer child died at age of 13, from an infection that had he treatment for he would have survived.
Ever look into a dead 13 year old child's face? I climbed down, everyone stood by the child's side, we never left a child alone during the clean up.
I stood back exhausted, watching his parents scream, I hung my head. I felt Randy's arm across my shoulder , " come on kid let's walk it off", we ended up in the respiratory therapists room, and he let me cry, holding my shoulder, " you were brave about it ".
From there I did research on the life style of the migrant worker and their families. Everyone tells me " you are so brave"
I think back that day , in the Army, holding on to the inside of the helicopter that hovered over the ground with my 60 pound ruck sack on my shoulders, as the drill Sargent kicked my ass out the door, " get the fuck out of here", as I climbed down the rope thinking, " OMG if I let go? My ass is gone" I hung on and made it down. Yeah I am brave alright.