I just crammed $5 into a box with a kid's photo on it. We just found out he died so all my neighbors are chipping in to cover the cost of the funeral. There is no way any of us could give a substantial sum but all together it is a big help to the family.
This morning I drove Karina, my neighbor with a broken arm, to the police station to pick up a police report and file a claim with the city. Last week she accidently rode her bike into a ditch on our street where the city was doing some construction and broke her arm. It was dark. There were no cones up. The ditch was in front of a driveway. The police took a report and confiscated her bike. They are holding it for evidence. She needs surgery for her arm so she collected $2000 from family and friends. She can't work, which means she loses income. She has a bit of insurance but it doesn't cover emergency visits or orthopedic surgery so we went to ask the city to help with the expenses. The supervisor was very nice, but he was sweatin' it. It will take forever to get any money from the contractor's insurance he told me. Every time I turn on the radio or open a blog, it is teeming with debates on health care reform but today the debates seemed silly in light of my neighbor's urgency.
The kid who died was found in the desert. It took two weeks to identify his body. He was crossing illegally from Tijuana. I have heard stories like this for years. I have never known the person it happens to. I had never held the mother in my arms while she wept in disbelief. This guy had been a kid in my teen center. After high school there weren't many options for him. He got into some minor trouble and was deported. It was problematic because he had no family left in Mexico. He didn't know the area. I suppose that is why he tried to come back. There are many opinions on immigration and varying degrees of compassion but no mother wants to hear that her son was found dead in the desert while trying to come home.
As I plop down exhausted from this day, the words of Bono play in my head: "How long? How long must we sing this song? How long?"