Huntsville, Alabama—Enrique is a long way from Guatemala. A teenager. He speaks no English.
He works long hours on framing crews. He lives in a tent behind the gas station with two other boys.
Enrique comes down with a cold. The cold gets worse. And worse. He spends days lying on the ground of his campsite, wheezing, moaning. His fever is boiling hot.
One night, he hobbles through town for help. He finds an insurance office with a light on.
Enrique walks inside and mumbles, “Ayudame.” Then, he collapses.
One man drives Enrique to the hospital. Then, the man gives Enrique a place to stay—for two years.
And well, that was a long time ago. A lot of people have helped Enrique throughout his life.
They helped him get his citizenship, for instance. They also taught him English. They helped him through school. They helped him through nursing school, and clinicals.
Most of those same people, and fellow nurses, were at Enrique’s wedding.
Morgantown, West Virginia— Cindy is a recent widow. She is driving the interstate, on her way home from work. It’s late.
She sees a girl, walking the shoulder, pushing a stroller. She wears a fast-food uniform.
Cindy stops. “Can I give you a ride?” she asks.
The girl refuses and says she doesn’t mind walking.
Cindy sees her again the next morning. This time, it is raining. Cindy offers the girl and her baby a ride.
The girl tells Cindy she was kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, she has no family, and no place to stay.
The last few weeks, the girl’s been living in a friend’s garage, sleeping on an air mattress. Her baby has been sleeping in a cardboard box.
Cindy considers giving money, but it doesn’t feel like enough. So, she brings the young woman home.
The next day, Cindy gives the girl a gift-bag. There are gift certificates to a hundred different stores. Old Navy, Walmart, Target, you name it.
Then, Cindy gives the girl a set of car keys.
“What’re the keys for?” the young woman asks.
Cindy points out her window toward a blue Toyota—her late husband’s car.
“I want you to have that,” says Cindy.
Branson, Missouri—Phillip was a teenager who’d decided to run away from home.
It’s the same old story. He was the black sheep of his family. The youngest of three brothers—who were all hard on him. The runt.
Phillip’s mother died when he was six. His father worked full-time.
There was a fight between brothers. Tempers flared. A few black eyes. Some bruised ribs. Ugly words were used.
That next morning, Phillip left on a bus for Atlanta. It was an adolescent thing to do, but kids will be kids.
For most of the ride, Phillip looked out the window and cried. He missed his mother. He missed his family. He missed everything.
When he arrived in Atlanta he stepped off the bus and heard a crowd of people shout his name.
His father, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even a few friends from school. A whole greeting party. All that was missing was the marching band.
Some folks even held signs like: “We love you Phillip. Come Home!”
It was a twenty-person hug. And it lasted a long time.
“I never believed anyone loved me that much,” said Phillip.
Now here’s the part you knew was coming: this world is sick. And sad. And it can be a lonely place to live. If you don’t believe me, just turn on the evening news.
Hate is for sale, and it’s buy-one-get-one-free this week. People are killing people. Crime-scene tape gets strung across innocent porches. Explosions right and left.
You might not feel like anybody cares about anybody anymore in this old place. And maybe you’re right.
But if you ask me, you owe it to yourself to meet Nurse Enrique.