I told your story yesterday old friend. I told your story and shared your voice with strangers. Just like you wanted. Just like you knew I would those days when you shared stories of your life on the road and laughed and teased and flirted.
Remember? You said you wanted to be remembered. Oh. Not for the word you carried that named you. Oh no. Never that harsh and judgmental label – homeless. It didn’t sit well with you. Call me anything but that, you said.
And then you laughed. Because I’m not, you know. I’ve got a home. Here. And your rheumy eyes glistened and I saw the longing for home shining.
I told them of your brother. Of your reuniting. Of the missing years that had no need of filling in. Of the tears and the joy. And finally, I told these strangers who had never met you, but wished they had, of your brother’s hand holding yours in those final moments. Of your passing over filled with grace in the love of a brother who never forgot you and never gave up on finding you before it was too late.
You blessed my world my friend. You blessed me with your laughter and your words and your insistence you would fight this. You would win. You would beat it. Not even life can beat me down you said. And it didn’t. At least not life itself. You were so full of it. So completely engaged in it. And then, you were gone.
In the end, you won. In the beauty and the tragedy of your life, you found the thing you most sought. That thing we all yearn for. That place we all want to be. Held forever in the arms of Love.
Yesterday I told your story and I smiled and laughed and remembered you just the way you wanted to be remembered. Determined. Feisty. Laughing and just a little bit naughty.
Tell them about the man I was, you said. Tell them about the man with dreams and big ideas and an eye for the ladies.
You winked when you said that. You always winked when you flirted.
Tell them about the man who could lift bales of hay with one hand and change a flat tire in three minutes flat. Don’t tell them about the skin and bones, the skeleton rattling around a small cubicle room where all I own fits into a 2×6 foot locker. Leave the ending out, would you?
Remember me for the man I was. The man who did it his way. The one who told himself he never needed anyone and found out, in the end, he was grateful to be wrong. Make sure they know that, you said. Make sure they know. No one is meant to be alone. Especially in the end.
I told your story yesterday old friend and you were remembered and eyes glistened and hearts drew near and warmed their hands in the glow of your closeness and I knew, you were there. Laughing. Caring. Sharing your stories and your funny jokes and not so delicate ones too.
You are not forgotten my friend.
It is cold and frosty outside today. Inside, my world is warm and toasty. Beaumont sleeps on the chaise behind me. My beloved lays in our bed. The furnace hums. The river flows past, its ripples glistening in the light that shines from the bridge above. The bridge that connects two sides of the river flowing past.
The world outside my window is wintry white as once the screen lay flat and white before me. Until your memory filled it.
I ran into an old work colleague yesterday. We laughed and chatted and talked about people we knew. Those who are still with us. Those who are gone.
“It’s good to remember the good of that place,” my colleague said. “That way we let go of what we do not need to carry.”
Wise words, I thought. And I remembered a man who once stayed at that place. His name was Terry. He is gone but the lesson he taught remains.
In remembering, I searched for something I’d written of him a year after he passed.
No one is meant to be alone., he said. Especially in the end.
The air is frigid outside my window. Arctic air encompasses the city.
There are those who are outside in this cold, struggling to survive.
If you are in Calgary and see someone in distress, please call the DOAP team — 403-998-7388
If you are in another city, please check with your local shelters if there’s a number you can call, or call 9-1-1