Posts Tagged ‘Daylina Miller’

Daylina Miller eating dinner with a COSAC shelter resident.

By: Daylina Miller

Being both pragmatic and morbid, one of the questions I asked myself before my 5-hour drive to Hollywood, Fla., was “What happens to homeless people when they die?”

During the first news meeting that was held at the Ramada Inn just a couple miles from the COSAC shelter, that very topic was on the list from last year’s “Will Write For Food” program. My goal was to find out what happened to homeless individuals that died in the shelter and on the street.

I ended up finding out a lot more than just the process of law enforcement officials delivering the bodies to the medical examiner’s office and then releasing them to a funeral home or crematorium for cremation and burial. I realized that no matter how down on life some of these people are, many of them manage to retain a deep spirituality.

I’ve been struggling my whole life with my spirituality. Is there a God? Many Gods? Is He or She the Christian God I was raised to believe in, judgmental and accusing? Hearing shelter residents discuss their relationship with God and seeing the signs about faith taped to the walls in their rooms was baffling. How do people who have literally nothing left to lose believe in an omniscient creator who allowed this to happen to them?

Peggy Walters

Then I met Peggy Walters, a full-blooded Paiute Native American woman whose story was heartbreaking and enlightening. Her spiritual beliefs awakened something deep inside of me, perhaps triggering the 12 percent of my blood that is Blackfoot Native American.

Peggy knows the poverty that plagues Native American reservations in this country. My own great-great-grandmother was born and raised on one in Montana. She has struggled her whole life and still believes that the Great Father is always there to guide her steps. Everything happens for a reason.

Peggy’s face is creased by years of laughing and she talks with her hands. She believes in the importance of touch, of looking people in the eyes and the power of laughter. People should remain childlike, she said, and remember how to have fun and to laugh because to the Great Father, we are always his children, no matter how old we get.