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All the Lonely People

July 22, 2015  |  Cathy Finn

I heard the Beatle’s ‘Eleanor Rigby’ as I drove in to work today, a song that, while it is a true classic from my youth, I’ve heard so many times it could have faded into becoming only background music for my trip. But, for some reason, today I was in the mood to listen to the words.

It speaks of quiet, desperate people, or, perhaps, the quietly desperate (there is a difference). Paul McCartney wrote the words and music when he was only 26; it occurred to me that the words of the song feel as though they were written by an older person, someone who had walked through life taking its measure. I feel the song is a serious reflection upon those who disappear all around us, all the people we don’t see as we move from day to day. It’s a song that I was surprised could have been written by McCartney at the time; a young man who was well on his way to being wealthy and adored.

I work daily with people who reflect sad lives similar to Eleanor Rigby’s and Father McKenzie’s. The chronically poor, the addicted, the homeless have so little they can enjoy and look forward to. Many times, in the course of my job, I have asked people what good things they would like in their lives; what gives them joy. So often I have gotten a blank stare. We spend a great deal of time talking about the trauma and problems they are facing; conversations that need to happen. They so often doubt there are answers for their problems; and, at times, there may not be. The visual of Fr McKenzie wiping the dirt of the grave off his hands has a ring of truth in it.

Offering false hope is both ineffective and not well received. The invisible know they are lonely. So many of them have burned bridges with friends and family. There is no one to visit them when they are in the hospital; there is no one to call when they are sad or lonely. So often, the only ‘friends’ they have, they will admit, would steal anything they can from them, given the chance. Quiet desperation. Quiet loss. Regret, without the redemption of forgiveness by self or others.

‘All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”

We could also add... ”Where will they all go?”

I have no idea. All we can do here at Duffy Health Center is what we do every day; we reach out to one person at a time, and try to make a small improvement in their life. We look for a least a few seconds without pain, emotional or physical. We hope to have them walk out of the door feeling valued and respected. We offer a few moments of a sympathetic ear.

Occasionally we have to tell someone we don’t know the answers, but I’ve seen staff look people straight in the eyes and tell them; walk through our doors, and I will promise you…you are not alone, and I hope, for at least those few minutes, you will not be invisible.

Do you or someone you know need some help and support? Duffy is here to help. Contact us to make an appointment or refer a friend.