There are a thousand roads leading into homelessness, but only two leading out of it. One leads home. The other leads to the grave.
On Monday, December 21 we will gather as a community to remember those whose road out of homelessness ended with their last breath.
We will remember. And together we will say, “You are not forgotten.”
It is hard in this place called, ‘homeless’ to remember that there are those who miss you, remember you, want to know where you are. It is hard to remember where you are, let alone who you are, when every street you turn down becomes a dead end leading you nowhere but back to where you came from, and that’s the road that lead you here, to this place called homeless.
It is the dichotomy of the place and state of homelessness. You have to lose everything you’ve got to get there yet, it takes everything you’ve got to get out of it.
For some, getting out of it is only achieved when their heart stops beating and breath no longer passes over their lips.
For some, the only road out is the road they so desperately tried to avoid with every breath they took to stay alive.
And then they are gone and there is no marker, no ceremony, no memorial to say, “I was here. I existed. I made a difference.”
A walk through the unmarked graves in Queen’s Park Cemetery in Calgary tells the story. The city provides land to bury those of no fixed address, but there is no money to mark the names on a headstone. When the grave is dug, a city worker places cardboard tag affixed to a little metal stick with the deceased’s name scribbled on it with a black sharpie in the ground to mark the location of each burial plot.
If you’re lucky, the stick will still be standing up and the tag will still be affixed.
But mostly, the sticks have fallen over, the tags have gone blowin’ in the wind and all the flowers, if there were any, are gone.
It’s hard for those who want to remember to come and visit. Just as so often happened in life, they do not know where to find their loved ones in a field of unmarked graves.
This Monday, we will stand together and remember. Please come and stand with us. Come and remember and listen to each name called out, each candle lit.
And in our remembering, let us say together, “You are not forgotten.”