Cody is a 34 year old homeless man who sleeps in his truck at a gas station off of Wells Branch and I-35 with his dog coconut. We parked and walked up to him with some bananas, water, granola bars and an open heart and mind. At first he was a little reserved, but once we started talking to him he opened up like a book and poured his heart out to us. He told us that he lost his mother and home in a fire years ago and that he has never dealt with the depression and grief that he experiences ever day. The only thing that keeps him going is his dog Coconut and the hope that one day he will be able to pick his life back up again.
This scraggly looking man who people may view as just a hopeless person who should get a job, or is probably an alcoholic or addict was once a orthopedic surgeons assistant. He actually has more formal education than me! After losing everything in the fire he was able to live with friends hopping from couch to couch but eventually the depression and grief lead to him isolating himself from others. He told us that this is his first time living on the street and panhandling for change (most of it goes to Coconut for dog food, a bed for her etc) and he is in the process of getting a job through my mom’s employer Bluebonnet Trails. As he shared his story with me he started to tear up and so did I, and in that moment I held him and we cried together in the street with cars mere feet away gawking at us awkwardly.
Cody told me that it had been months since he had any real human contact, and just the fact that we came up and talked to him meant so much. Imagine if this was you or your brother/sister, would you want people to look at them as less than? As impure or unfit? Thrown away by society as if he is nothing left to fend for himself, starving, cold and alone. It could have easily been me out there suffering in silence as Cody does, it could have been my mom/house that was burned until it was just a pile of ash. I myself have been homeless before and can empathize with this young man. Below is a link for a compilation video showcasing different people living in front of The Arch homeless shelter in downtown Austin.
“We were dressed in potential, now we’re draped in sorrow” – Silent Planet