“I’ll Miss the Kick-Ass Bitch”

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The following depiction of a homeless woman with mental illness was posted by my brother on Facebook a couple of days ago. It was so moving that I thought I’d share it with all of you.

A bit of background: My brother is an attorney in the public defender’s office in the suburbs of Baltimore. He acts as legal counsel for those who cannot afford their own lawyer. A good portion of his clientele are drug offenders. Many of them are homeless. Many also suffer from mental illness. And he’s there to make sure they get the legal counsel that is their constitutional right. It’s a job he has had for decades, and he relishes it. Anyway, here’s his story. I dare you to read it and not be moved.

“I Need Help!”

A long-time client of mine who became a dear friend was killed in a hit and run homicide. She was chronically mentally ill. Her illness eventually forced her mother to put her out. She kept coming back to see mom. After a few days, things would get out of hand. Her mother, understandably, had to get a protective order to keep my friend away.

She was on disability, but that paid only enough for her to rent a room in someone’s house. That always ended badly. The police were called. She went from one shelter to another. Again, it would work out for a while, then she would run out of her meds or lose them or have them stolen. She’d be asked to leave. They would eventually ban her because of her behavior. No medication always led to bad things. So my friend would eventually end up homeless. Alone. It was hard for her to be around people. But when everything was under control, strangers liked her. She had a genuine and open smile.

Not too long ago, I was visiting a client who was housed in the same unit as my friend was. She had to be locked in her cell because she had acted up. I heard her screaming louder than anyone could bear to hear, “I need help.” It went on for so long that I had to cut my visit short.

The last time I saw her, in a holding cell just before she was released, she told me that all she wanted to do was hug her mother. Just once. Now, my mother isn’t here to hug. I can’t imagine knowing that mom is not far, but she genuinely needs the law to keep her daughter away. Only one hug.

She died alone. The coward who hit her just kept on going. She was homeless. She was disposable. She was invisible. She was so funny that tears would literally stream down my cheeks when she got on a roll. She told me that when I needed help, the kick-ass bitch (her) would straighten things out. She was a human being. She was my friend. She was a human being.

She died alone on the street.

She was killed early last Monday morning. I found out about it Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday morning, it hit me like a cyclone. Spun me around. I remembered that a friend always says Mass on Wednesdays near my office. I met him in the parking lot, sobbing. He asked the people there to pray for her. They are a small group of retired nuns. Some in their eighties, a few over ninety. They will pray for her. I will pray for her. I’ll miss the kick-ass bitch.

Homeless, Hopeless, Helpless.

It is a sad fact that many people with mental illness end up like this woman—homeless, hopeless, and helpless. Disposable, as my brother said. So many end up in prison because they have nowhere else to go. In fact, there are those who purposely commit crimes so that they will at least have a shot at food and shelter. That’s how low they have fallen. That’s how much society has failed them.

I have written before about my children having comorbid conditions along with their autism: OCD, anxiety, and the like. These are mental illnesses, plain and simple. The only difference between them and this woman is demographics. I make a decent living. Katie and I are able to provide a stable, loving home environment where they can grow and thrive. We make sure that they receive the medical and psychological care they need so that they have a good chance of living independent, self-sufficient lives. Of course, none of this is a sure-fire guarantee, but the odds are significantly better.

Many, many people are not so lucky. They are the forgotten, the ignored, the abused, the ragged people living on the margins. Thank God for people like my brother—true advocates and servants who are committing themselves to helping these people as much as possible!

4 thoughts on ““I’ll Miss the Kick-Ass Bitch”

  1. “God bless your brother and all who serve faithfully helping the forgotten and marginalized fellow human beings. Help us dear Lord to not miss opportunities to help in whatever little ways we can.”

  2. Beautiful. Even those of us lucky enough to have a roof over out heads have to deal with being outcasted because of the stigmas associated with mental illness which me and all my children have. Fighting the system to get the help my children needs really tests my sanity, too.

  3. Not surprising, knowing so many amazing members of your family, but WOW, your brother has worked as a public defender for DECADES in BALTIMORE, and has kept his heart from becoming hard and jaded, AMAZING! May God continue to bless him!!
    Dr. Lynn

  4. This young lady reminded me of myself, especially when he talked about how she made him laugh hard at times… I hear that constantly, that I’m sooooooo funny and could probably be a comedian… I sometimes agree, when I’ve done or said things that crack me up as well. But, the similarities that jump out most is the fact that she and I both are homeless and alone… Crazy thing is I wonder if my family would even know if I haphazardly got hit by a car and would they even care??? Mental illness is terrible and has caused me homelessness so many times, but I can’t really equate this time particular to bipolar, simply because I was doing rather well, so I thought. In the sense that I was purposely keeping up with my bills and staying free of careless mistakes, which caused overdraft fees and the whole nine yards… Something else is transpiring with me and God will soon reveal it to me I’m sure.

    Nonetheless, I’m so happy your brother has a heart of gold as he does, to give if himself the way he does, in his profession, to the underprivileged… His acts won’t go unnoticed nor without Heavenly reward! God sees and knows ALL and your brother is indeed carrying out the Great Commission on EVERY level… Let him know I applaud him. Plllleeeeeaaaaassssseeee Pray for me and all others suffering with mental illnesses and homeless because of it.

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