I came back today.
You were not there.
You see, when I saw you the first time, I was pressed for time.
I almost didn't stop, but when I saw you, I saw your sign, and I wanted to help.
Your sign said "Lost". I don't remember what else it said, as I was in a hurry.
I couldn't even pull over close enough to hand you my money.
I rolled down my window, blocked the intersection at Walmart and called out that "if you'll run over here, I have money for you."
You shuffled and limped your way across the intersection, though there were some cars coming.
It was overcast and a little windy and later that day we had a miniature blizzard with some strong winds.
As you came over to my car, you were muttering about your shoes and the fact that they were too small. We were right next to the Payless Shoe Store.
Since then? I have not been able to stop thinking about you.
You have been on my mind for two straight days, but I was working as a substitute teacher. I couldn't come back that day, but I had time today. When I finished teaching, I went back, but you were not there.
I asked the other people standing where you had been if they knew where you were, but they had not seen you. They said they'd mention to you that I came back, if they saw you again.
Often, there are people there with signs, but I had to accept that I may have missed my chance to buy you shoes.
I had one chance to help you, and now it has passed.
It's difficult to explain how disappointed that makes me. I don't know you, not even your name.
I feel that I could have handled it all so much better if I would have just had more time. I may have given you money, but I feel like I didn't really help you.
I didn't even get to ask you what size shoes you wear, but I can remember your athletic sneakers. I think they were kind of a gray with pink accents. I don't know why you were wearing shoes that were too small, but I will not forget looking down at your feet.
This weekend, I will celebrate Easter with my family. I will rejoice in the fact that I have been found, though I too was "Lost". Will you be lost this Easter? Will you be warm enough? I don't know your story, but I am thinking about you.
I will share your story with others in the hope that they will not pass up a chance to help, if it is given to them.
And I will pray that you will be given shoes that fit. That you will know you are loved. That you will no longer be lost, or "Lost". That you will come to know the hope that keeps me warm when I'm surrounded by great tragedy and hopelessness.
Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Trainers_%28shoes%29#/media/File:Shoes-in-Mud-2759.jpg (cropped)