Please Don't Judge Him


Until you've walked in his shoes.....

He sat in the coffee shop, relieved to be out of the cold, if even for a few minutes. He sipped slowly, not really to savor the flavor but to savor the warmth. The window was steamy and he rubbed a circle in the middle of it with his gnarled hand. It was still snowing. He stared down into the bottom of his empty cup and knew he had to go now. He sighed deeply and slowly rose from his booth. He shrugged on the old, gray, wool coat, tattered and dirty; his fingers slid down the edges, hoping that buttons might have magically appeared, but all his fingers found were remnants of thread where the buttons used to be. He bent down and picked up his scarf, which too was old, dirty and faded. He wrapped it snuggly around his neck. Next he picked up his pack which held everything dear to him....blanket, toothbrush, a dented pot....a spoon. And pictures of a past life...

His 5 year old daughter,a tiny sprite with bouncy blond hair and deep brown eyes ran around the yard, "look at me daddy! Take my picture!!" she squeeled. His wife laughed and handed him the camera. "Okay, but can you stay still for just a minute??!" he laughed as he snapped photos of her. His 3 year old son ran around the yard playing airplane, his arms extended out on either side of him. "Take a picture of me too daddy!" he said as airplane noises sputtered from his mouth. He looked just like his dad, with straight dark hair and dark brown eyes. Daddy was his hero. He aimed the camera toward him and snapped away. He felt good.

His wife, love of his life, best friend in the entire world, sauntered over and slung her arms around his neck. She whispered softly in his ear, "You're the best of the best." He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her. The kids ran over and joined in the family hug and then it was time for dinner.

He walked out the door and into the freezing cold. His breath formed puffs of fog. He lifted his shoulders in an attempt to keep the warmth in and began his journey to nowhere in particular. He watched as a couple strode by arm and arm. They eyed him suspiciously. Don't matter though, he's used to it. He looked down at his feet and kept going. The snow was accumulating on his hair now. It began to melt and drip down his neck onto his scarf. He walked on.

After dinner the kids began their ice cream campaign...."please can we go for ice cream?" they both chanted together. His wife looked at him. "Wanna come with us? We'll run down to Dairy Queen." He thought about it and declined. "I've got a meeting first thing in the morning so I have to make sure all my ducks are lined up. You guys go and have one for me," he said as he winked. He watched as they ran to the car and piled in.

A flock of pigeons startled him and he looked up quickly. The water from the snow on his head ran in a tiny stream down his back. He shrugged. As he approached the park he noticed that most of the "regulars" weren't there. "Must be at the kitchen," he thought to himself. No matter. He didn't mind being alone. Got used to it. He found "his" bench and sat down heavily. His backpack landed on the bench beside him. Opening it slowly, he peered in and then closed it. He kicked the snow from his boots. Didn't really matter though because the holes in the bottom had already let his socks get all wet. Another couple walked by and again eyed him suspiciously. He looked back at them and then looked down. Didn't matter.

He was wondering what in the hell they were doing at the Dairy Queen. They'd been gone for almost 2 hours. He figured they'd probably run into friends there. They had so many.

He finally heard the car in the driveway and he turned off the office light. He sauntered toward the door, ready to jokingly harass them for taking so long. The officer stepped onto the porch and removed his hat. The man spoke but he didn't hear. Everything spiraled in fast motion. He began to sweat. He was screaming and pounding his fists. He cried, harder than he had ever cried in his life.

He didn't want to go to the shelter tonight. He pulled out his sleeping bag and placed it under the bench. He crawled in and zipped it. A lone man walked by and looked at him pathetically. Don't matter.

They handed him 3 roses. One for each of them. He slowly walked forward and gently laid one on each casket. Tears stung his eyes. His throat closed up tight so that he could barely breathe.

He watched as the tiny caskets of his children were lowered into the ground. Then he watched as his wife's was lowered in beside them.

The car was mangled. Wrapped around a tree. The black marks in the road gave proof that she tried to avoid another vehicle. But that driver never stopped. They were left there alone. To die alone in the tangled mess.

The man stood stoicly, hands behind his back and feet planted apart. He was their sentinel now...not him. He would not ever have them again. Would never hold their hands or hold them close to him. Would never hear them say I love you. Would never tell his children a bedtime story. Would never make sweet love to his wife. Would never grow old with them.

And then he lost his mind. Lost all semblance of himself and the life he once had.

He wanders the streets now. No direction. No care. Life doesn't matter anymore.

So please don't judge him. Unless you've walked in his shoes.

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Comments 20 comments

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this great insight. I have enough things wrong with me (first) to judge others.

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

Mhatter99, you're welcome and thanks for reading!

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia

Wow, this was a powerful piece, well written and filled with emotion. Great job moonfairy!

Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 4 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

This one is classic, moonfairy! You did a beautiful job bringing us back and forth between his two lifetimes. I am voting this up and sharing it.

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

weestro, thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a nice comment, I appreciate it!

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

Tom Koecke, thanks for taking the time to read this hub and for such fantastic feedback =) I also thank you for voting and sharing....

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago

One small snapshot of one small man . One small man who's hours now are spent in walking dead.....awesome voted all up!....Ed

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

ahorseback....good evening to you! Thanks for stopping by and commenting and also for the votes...I appreciate it very much!

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Very profound insight my friend.

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

shiningirisheyes, thank you for that. Merry Christmas my friend....

MzChaos profile image

MzChaos 4 years ago from Indianapolis

Harsh on the emotions, but then is.

(voted up)

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

Thank you for reading Mz Chaos, yes it's harsh, but it's based on a true story which is so very sad. Thank you for your vote up!

Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

I loved this. A sad and powerful story, which wasn't quite what I expected when I started reading. Being in this kind of situation is probably a fear that we all have. Also a well-chosen title. Thanks for sharing this.

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

Moon Daisy, thanks for reading and for your kind words....I appreciate it!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Thank you for writing this! I was there once, so this falls under the category...."there but for the grace of God." You have delivered a powerful message here my friend. Bravo for your compassionate heart.

oceanuniverse profile image

oceanuniverse 4 years ago from California

Thank-you for sharing, its so true, don't judge. I was raised like that about not judging others unless you have been in that situation. Again thanks for sharing.

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

billybuc..thank you for your kind words and I commend you for where you are today....

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 4 years ago Author

oceanuniverse...thank you for your comment. I think that we all judge at some point...but if we could just remember that we do not know their situation, we would all be a little more compassionate. I appreciate your feedback!

Insightful Tiger profile image

Insightful Tiger 3 years ago

Now my husband is wondering why I'm sitting here bawling. Growing up in New York I used to see many homeless people as a kid. I often wondered how someone ends up like that. Where is their family? where are their friends? Then I realized that some people don't have any family or friends. That was easily the saddest realization in my life.

Its important that we don't forget these people. I remember one time I bought food at Mcdonald's (thinking back I should have chosen healthier food, but I was young) and went to go find homeless people to give it to. You should have seen their faces light up. So I went back the next week with canned foods. I was told by a police officer that it is illegal to distribute food without a license. I wish we didn't live in that kind of world. It's wrong to stop someone from helping another human being.

Well I've been rambling, but I just want to say that this was so beautifully written. It all came to life in my mind. Thank you for this hub; it is such an important message.

moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 3 years ago Author

Insightful Tiger...thank you for reading and for you wonderful comment. You were extremely kind to try and help the homeless and I'm outraged that a cop stopped you. What is wrong with people???? All you were doing was trying to help and shame on the cop. I applaud your efforts and wouldn't it be nice if everyone tried to do something to help, instead of passing judgement....!

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