Diane Larsback is a proud First Nations woman; her people are Cree and Iroquois. She is a survivor and a poet. For many years she struggled with her addictions and lived rough on the street. She told us this powerful story of kindness shown by two complete strangers which became one such incident that eventually convinced her to seek her recovery and healing.
I dimly remember crawling out from underneath a bridge in Kelowna where I had spent a hellish night trying to stay warm while my body and mind cried out for alcohol.
By this stage in my addiction i was drinking to keep “the shakes” away and anyone who knows how this feels knows it is as close to death as one can get.
This particular morning happened to be Christmas. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find any stores open so i could steal my booze. My only course of action was to get to the hospital and ask for help in getting detoxed safely. I really really didn’t want to go. Why? ‘cause they treated me like a nasty turd on their shoe as soon as it was realized i was there for alcohol related issues. I slowly, painfully made my way the 4 blocks. Stopping at every bus stop to rest, I was so weak. The right side of my lower tummy was swollen and sore and i knew it was my liver reacting to the abuse i had given it. I hoped this fact would make it an easier decision for the doctor on call to accept me in. But the Doctor turned me away saying that I had gotten myself into this mess, and I had to get myself out of it.
It is hard for me to relive that day and how broken i felt walking away from the hospital, but it’s good too, because that’s the day I met two angels.
It was a sunny, beautiful day, the sun was on my back doing it’s best to warm me. I decided to go to my friends house and rest and formulate a plan to get alcohol into my system. She only lived about two blocks away but as I tried to walk I collapsed to my knees in the uncleared snow. I was done.
As i sat in my brokenness I heard a young girl’s voice ask me if i needed a ride anywhere. I looked up to see two youthful, shiny clean faces in a jeep.
” No, no, i’m alright, don’t worry about me, i’m just about there. But thank you…”. But they insisted “We can’t leave you here like this. Please get in and we’ll give you a lift”. I was so surprised by their sweetness, but still, i didn’t want to involve them in my wreck of a life, so i says,” aww man, you are so awesome but i’d just stink up your backseat. You guys just go. I’ll be alright.” The young guy goes,”we’re not leaving you, so you might as well get in ok?”
They then get out of their vehicle and try to help me in. I was so touched, so embarrassed at the state I was in, but these little angels were having none of it. As we drove the whole two blocks I let them know how their kindness was monumental to me, and how in stopping for me as a stranger, gave me hope for young people and the future of our world. I was so very grateful. As they drove off shouting “Merry Christmas”! I remember feeling a sense of happy shock that two complete strangers could show me such kindness.
I hope one day to meet these two again. I will stand proudly before them and tell them,
“yes, i remember you, this is who you helped. What you did that day i carry with me, I give it to others and i will carry that with me till the day i die. Thank you.”
Story as told by Diane, introduction by Graham Ord, photograph by Wendy McAlpine (permission)