She has crossed my path twice since Marilyn’s disappearance… But she does not know it. The first time, a young man called. He had lived with her for months. He thought he saw Marilyn – he noticed a tattoo, a tiny waist, and beautiful eyes. The second time, a woman called. She thought she saw Marilyn in a hospital – she noticed a young woman who spoke loudly, seemed intoxicated, and struggled. She was unceremoniously stripped and was denied the syrup for drug addicts.
The next day, the staff reached into the lost and found box to dress her. With a hospital blanket on her back, she walked out of the building and into a snowstorm. She was probably soon forgotten, just like her scarf and gloves. She is a lost object. She looks like Marilyn. I know her name now. I looked in the list of missing persons, but I cannot find her.
Apparently, she is not missed by anyone.
She is roughly the same age as my sister. Where does she live? She is a prostitute in a small town in the Province of Québec. I know that her situation is deteriorating. Two years ago, she had at least a roof. I found her twice by searching for Marilyn. She is not Marilyn. She just looks alike. She is the one who works the streets, banging her heels on the cement hard as her life.
Twice already. I’m afraid of ”in comes in threes”. And what if we receive a phone call to identify a dead body that is not Marilyn’s? What a shock! Why is it that nobody is looking for this other woman? Is it not possible to help her rather than stupidly looking at her walking away in the storm? I don’t know what happened to Marilyn. I like to imagine her hidden in a convent like in the movie “Sister Act”, or on a beach in Mexico, wind in her hair, smiling. I see her as a heroine who escapes from all the bad situations of any kind. In dark moments, I tell myself that my sister is strong, that humans are resilient, that there are always survivors of genocide, tsunamis, bombs, and hardships that seem insurmountable. Marilyn knows that she can count on me and that I will always love her. I still hope to see her again every day. When I think of this other young woman, doubt fills my heart.
What if someone is looking at Marilyn walking in the storm? It is so easy to close your eyes, wait for the silhouette to fade away, and say “Anyway, I’ll never see that person again.” As a sister of a missing person, these words resonate in my heart, even when it’s about a stranger. The thought of never seeing my loved one again, to imagine her in pain or in the cold makes my blood curdle. This is why the idea of a good Samaritan, the hot sun of Mexico, the amnesiac who wakes up all allow the hint of a smile when my eyes meet those of Marilyn’s, frozen in the photos.
Twice already, I found a girl that looks like her. Not sure what to do, I called a charity organization to see if they could walk in the footsteps of this other woman. I came across a good person but there are no resources in small towns to help prostitutes. The Stella organization only exists in Montréal City.
I asked: “Do you have a program that would allow her to get off the street?”
They said: “Yes, there is a shelter that receives homeless women. The initial approach must come from the person. One can only ask if she needs help. “I insisted: “You can give her a brochure, right?” They replied: “Yes, no problem. The team will keep an eye out for her. “I never named her. I gave a street intersection.
I hung up and told myself that finally someone was going to look for her.Then, I called the shelter.I was told they “may receive a homeless woman at no cost but only for a few weeks.”I added: “I think this young woman is a drug addict. Can you help?”With some restraint, they said, “Yes, but our means are limited. We are working with a detox center.”A new resource. I asked: “Do you have the phone number for the detox center?”
I was told rather curtly: “It is in the yellow pages.”
It’s true, after all I could also search for the phone number…
I found the detox center on the internet. I spoke to a very nice person who explained: “We accept most cases, except those that are too heavy.”
I said: ”Can you please elaborate? ”
The list was relatively simple: “People who inject intravenous drugs, those who have already stayed with us and showed behavioral problems such as violence. Things like this… ”
I asked, “What is the available resource for the serious cases?”
Ah yes, the one who sends people away in the storms.
She added quickly: “You can not force anyone into treatment.”
Once I took a course with a charity organization that helps young homeless people. Their code of conduct was similar:
“We’re not here to SAVE them. We are here to meet their needs.” The person proudly claimed that she let a young woman give birth on a beach, but gave her blankets.
Really? Is this truly enough to sound happy?
I know we cannot save the whole world, but perhaps we should review our approaches?
To what extent would a homeless person, often intoxicated, make an informed decision on her own fate when she is begging, forced into prostitution, fighting, or fasting, just to survive?
And how can we trust those who enforce internment or make mandatory observation decisions when they let anyone walk in the storm?
I am starting to think that those who say “it’s not my decision” ultimately are causing this unhealthy loop where nobody can get out of anything because no one feels responsible.
I don’t know if this young woman who looks like Marilyn will decide to seek help. Whether she will accept the coffee from the charity organization. If she will consider taking a good look at the brochure or not.
I have offered financial support for her to say “I don’t want it” rather than “I can’t have it”. Will she be offered anything at all?
It’s not me who decides. Meanwhile, this young woman is walking in the storm.