The story I am about to share is about one of the most courageous persons I have ever encountered. I first met Crystal a couple of months ago. She lives in the center of old Denver just west of City Park. I picked her up with her kids, to take them to school. I thought this was a short hop… it was 31 miles one way, almost to Parker. We dropped them off at two different schools and headed back towards her home. She was sitting in the front seat and made a phone call. It was impossible not to hear her side of the conversation. Whoever she was talking to was problem solving transportation with her. I picked up that she needed to get to the Social Security office in Arapaho County. It did not work out. She was spending about 75$ just to take her kids to school. I debated with myself “Turn off the app and offer to drive her. Tell her you will give her four hours of FREE-LYFT”. That little voice that’s us but not, said “Do it”. So I did and she accepted it.
What then ensued on the 45 minute drive south opened up a conversation with a most resilient woman. I find out that:
—Crystal is from Oklahoma and is part Cherokee, Creek, and African (think ‘Trail of Tears’) and was born in 1974, just like my daughter Amy.
—Has had multiple myeloma since 2016 and had to go on full disability.
—Her father, who was a Marine Viet Nam vet, died when she was three. “I wonder sometimes how my life would have been different had my dad gone to the doctor in time”.
—Her husband – the kids’ father, dropped dead three years ago on a trip back home to Oklahoma.
—She is a college grad who loves to work and is now on the edge of homelessness as a result of battling this virulent cancer.
—She is a very committed mom who was told by her attorney that because of her diagnosis, she needed to get her affairs in order with Social Security, in the event she is not able to win this battle with cancer.
— She is “not” a victim. —She is my new hero.
That stay at the SS office was nearly two hours. I didn’t mind, as I caught up on some reading under a shade tree. When she came back to my car she said, “Well, I waited all that time to find out I will have to come back with even more documentation. Then the cancer clinic at PSL called and asked if I could come in for my chemo in an hour”. I said, “Well, we are off to Presbyterian/St. Luke’s”. On the drive back to Denver she asked me a lot of questions about my kids, my life, my new pastorate in Greeley. When we pulled up to PSL, I gave her my business card and said “When you need to go back to the SS office, I will give you a free half day of driving”.
I want to make it perfectly clear—I AM NOT THE HERO OF THIS STORY— Crystal is.
Yesterday I was able to fulfill my offer. She continues to bless me with her amazing spirit. This time the SS office only had six cars in the lot. I barely got a 10 minute nap. I asked if I could bring her kids dinner from their favorite fast food stop. She texted both of them – “I knew it, I was hoping they would choose McDonalds but they love Churches. I hope you don’t mind”. “Not at all, it’s their call, Churches it is”. We pulled out of the chicken place on Federal with a giant sack of fried everything. I dropped her off back at her place.
It’s with her permission that I tell this story and share these pictures. Thanks Crystal – your tenacity, resilience, humor and kind heart LYFT me up.
I will keep you posted as to our next outing. Onward and Upward,