“Why them and not me?”
"When I was 8 years old, a little girl threw a softball at the back of my head. I turned around and said "why did you do that?", she said "because you're not talking to me." Her name was Anita Jo and I married her. She's the only woman I've ever been with. Faces of Santa Ana, welcome Mike to the family. Fast forward to 49 years, Anita Jo and their daughter died in a head on collision on the 22 freeway not far from where we met today. A year ago, as he drove his semi home from Wisconsin, he got the call that changed his life forever. He now lives on the streets searching for friendship and love. Mike, a military vet having completed tours in Vietnam, Iraq and Pakistan, often asks himself, "why them and not me?" Mike held back tears as he explained how he is unsure what he's living for, having lost the people he loved most. He explained that he's sometimes mad at God, but God is also all he has left. Mike is curious about God's plan for his life. I see a bright future for him.
UPDATE: Biker Mike's portrait was revealed to him on January 14, 2017. He passed away six days later on January 20, 2017. His friends Don and Rob found him in his tent along Santa Ana's river bed. Our last conversation was special because for the first time I heard hope in Mike's spirit. I explained that an 11 year old boy was raising money to buy his painting and he couldn't believe his ears. "Wow, maybe God is real!", were some of the last words he spoke to me.
Sammy, the 11 year old boy interested in Mike's painting, sold Boba Tea to help raise funds for his painting. This journey has taught us a lot about how love moves in between the hearts of people. Sammy's dedication to support Mike changed Mike's whole outlook on life before suffering from a heart attack. Sammy was the only person that instilled hope in Mike's life. I'll never forget our last conversation with Mike. He was different. More alive. Losing Mike on this journey has reminded me about the fragility of life. Our tomorrow isn't promised to us. Nobody is guaranteed another day.