For the first time in over a year, my plane arrived in Honduras while the sun was still shining. I got through customs, signed the paperwork for my shiny, red rental car and headed straight for Ciento Cinco. This is the area of San Pedro that I first met David, and where I assumed he’d return. Arriving at the Esso gas station, I quickly scanned the parking lot. Nothing. Peeked around the corner and found a man that ended up being too high to be of any help. Got cornered by a security guard who was happy to share his ideas about how to deal with the street kid problem. He literally encouraged me to come back at about 4:30 in the morning to inject the sleeping kids with drugs that will make them forget the streets. Umm…
Then I saw his slow, meandering gait across the parking lot. David. Assuring the guard that I would consider returning at 4:30 the next day, I jogged after David. I caught up with him at the exact part of the sidewalk where Rosy had forced him into my truck in October. Could it be more perfect? I said his name and asked if he remembered what happened here. He looked shocked to see me and started to cry as we hugged. I couldn’t stop shaking. And I thought I had him. He was high as a kite, but happy to see me. Unfortunately, this would be the last hopeful interaction we would have.
I saw him many times after this. He wouldn’t run away, but he also wouldn’t speak to me. On my last day he came with me, Kyree and Kayleigh (two girls from my team) to go get pizza for him and the gaggle of kids and men that he hangs with. When we were away from everyone else, he gave me a hug. So, maybe much of his silence was for the benefit of his friends? Every time I saw him I’d give him a letter. I tried to remind him of the words he had written to me. I talked about the people who cared about him. I reminded him of what he is capable of. And I gave him my phone number.
Midway through the week, I got a call at 10:30 at night. He said that he feels very alone. I told him that he has me and he simply replied, “I know.” I sighed and said that I wished he’d come back to Proniño. He started to say “I can’t…” and then the call ended. This was the first of a handful of calls I received from him that week. I would answer the phone and there would only be silence.
One morning, I found him while he was still sleeping. I sat next to him and journaled for a while because in those moments before he woke up and started telling me how much he loves being on the street I still had hope. While he’s sleeping and I’m sitting next to him, he’s safe and peaceful. At least for a little while.
I have this picture in a frame by my desk. After seeing how terrible he currently looks, it’s so hard to look at it and remember how good he was doing. Less than two months ago.
Now he’s here. And he’s adamant about staying.
It’s so hard to step back and watch someone throw their precious life away.
(To read more about David, click here.)