Friday, October 26, 2007

gently into that good night

From what we can tell he stopped along the railroad tracks on the way to the shelter sometime yesterday. Perhaps he was tired. Maybe it was too early for him to check in. Either way he stopped near the tracks, a slight incline, perhaps it was the warm sun.

He removed his jacket and folded it neatly under his head. He took off his shoes. Naps are always more comfortable without shoes. He took off his shoes and placed them close. Perhaps thinking if someone tried to lift them he'd wake up and notice. Either way he tucked them near.

He laid his head down on his jacket and went to sleep. He was found by one of our staff this morning during the neighborhood sweep. For a minute he thought he was sleeping but up close it was different, a days worth of difference at least.

Sometime between yesterday morning and the day before he died. No one knows why but hard living and sleeping outside takes it's toll. He looked peaceful, his eyes were closed. His head was still cradled by his jacket. A faint smile perhaps but that may just be wistful thinking and the hope for a gentle goodbye

And no one had tried to lift his shoes. Neatly tucked next to his side, his shoes were still there.

Rest in peace, brother. May you forever have soft pillows beneath your head.

42 comments:

deb said...

It seems so sad to die, alone, without family to sit by your side but I guess in truth we all die alone, even if we have family with us.

May he rest in peace.

Binky said...

I, too, hope it truly was a faint smile.

Family Adventure said...

You have to believe he is in a better place now.

Peace.

Heidi

Julie Pippert said...

Oh. rest in peace. In a way somehow, though, three is peace there. Maybe it's because of the image you painted, and the possibility of a faint smile.

Julie
Using My Words

thailandchani said...

He is free now.

Jenny said...

Amen, amen.

Oh, The Joys said...

And may he find home.

Beck said...

Poor lost man.

Mad Hatter said...

I honestly don't know how you do this, day-in day-out. I know it's for them but...

jennifer said...

we should all hope for death in our sleep...

Her Grace said...

Rest in peace.

mamatulip said...

Yes, rest in peace, brother.

Lisa b said...

I used to volunteer in our shelter system and was picturing so many of the men in this situation as I read this. It is a lovely tribute Jen.
I am so glad no one had tried to lift his shoes. A quiet dignity in the midst of it all.

Janet said...

That's seems so lonely, but I hope the faint smile meant he was at peace.

When my friend's mom was in the hospital with cancer, she shared a room with an elderly lady. My friend was visiting with her mom when a nurse came in to do her thing, checked the woman, turned to my friend and said, "She's gone." Just like that. In the end, the actual moment between life and death is a mere blink for all of us.

Laurie said...

My thoughts are with you.

Lawyer Mama said...

Sigh. ((HUGS))

radical mama said...

The dignity you bring to forgotten people just leaves me speechless, jen.

meno said...

No reason not to use some wishful thinking in this case. The detail of the shoes is wrenching.

cce said...

I hope it was a warm day, of sunshine and autumn breezes, as good a day as any to take the final nap.

blooming desertpea said...

most people would say it is sad and all that - I say, it's a wonderful way to die. Just imagine, dying with the sun in your face ... ahhh, the peace!

Mrs. Chicky said...

It was a smile. I refuse to believe differently.

Mrs. Chicken said...

In a way, that smile gives me the hope that at long last, in death, even the most desperate of us will find warmth and shelter.

Jen, you always make me think and then you make me cry.

Christine said...

i don't know what lies in wait for us after this life. but for him i hope it is a warm bed, feathery pillows,a and the knowledge that someone loves him.

Tabba said...

I agree that it has to have been a smile.
A smile as he entered a place of warmth and comfort.

flutter said...

sleep well and warm now, gentle soul

b*babbler said...

And now, by this tribute, he will be remembered by so many more.

KC said...

Painless peace. Bless him.

Amanda said...

I'd like to take it a step further and say, I think his smile was seen by others before you and it stopped them, protected his shoes and sent a message.

A smile, indeed.

FENICLE said...

I'm sure he will sleep softly now.

liv said...

and maybe that this is a blissful beginning to another something (?)

oh, to hope.

Bon said...

this had to be hard, Jen.

i am - silly, i know - glad that no one lifted his shoes. glad that he was not violated in one last way by the world. but sorry...for all that must have come before. i hope there is peace for him now.

Kyla said...

I hope it was the best nap of his life...full of the most beautiful dreams he's ever had...and then he stepped out of this life and into that one.

kaliroz said...

Oh, god, this breaks my heart.

The work you do, Jen, it fills me with hope.

crazymumma said...

I wonder if he can hear all the well wishes now sent his way?

It would be nice.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm sad to read this, to think of him slipping away, all alone. Yet it was peaceful, at least.

Magpie said...

...sigh.

Rest in peace.

Jocelyn said...

I am unutterably glad his shoes--and the man himself--were left undisturbed.

You get me every time, dear.

mitzh said...

He's finally home and will be forever smiling.

Your words always get through me.

Karen Forest said...

Oh, my aching heart!

I may be wrong but I don't take you as one to listen to country music (I don't think I am wrong....) but this scenario immediately brought to mind a song by Craig Morgan called "Almost Home". Also, when I hear the song "Moments" by Emerson Drive I think of you.

Isn't that funny? Thinking of "You" as if I know you....because, obviously, I don't. You have, however, worked you and your stories into my heart and I am forever changed.

If you have a chance you should check out those songs....country yes....but still good.

jen said...

Karen,
Thank you. I will check those songs out (and you are right, not a country music girl, but am forever open minded!)

Amy York said...

:(

Mommahbear. said...

You write so beautifully, Jen. Sad that he died alone. That was my first thought. But, in his sleep. What a wonderful blessing for a hard life. Peace be with him.