One of our guys died on the weekend. I only found out about it today. There was no obituary in the paper and none in the local papers online. I don't know where his body is tonight.
He died, I'm told, of alcohol poisoning. He was truly homeless - that is, unsheltered - and came to our public meals program. In more than a year, I've never seen him sober. Not once. On one occasion I asked him point blank if he was going to let the booze kill him. He looked me in the eye and said, "Oh yeah, it is going to kill me". This statement was made without emotion except, perhaps, a grim determination. He was a man under sentence of death.
It took me most of today to figure out who he was. I never learned his name. A year from now I won't remember him at all. Right now I remember how he smiled when I said 'hello' to him each night before dinner. He would say hello back, and then the rest of the conversation would soon become unintelligible on his part. He simply wasn't capable of remaining coherent for more than a few sentences at a time. His hair was always matted and dirty, his clothes were filthy and he smelled bad. He often had cuts, scrapes, bruises or black eyes from having fallen - or been beaten - down. There's nothing more I know about him. Perhaps all I know is that I'm feeling like there's been a tear in the fabric of the universe tonight, that we've all experienced a loss, that the world is somehow a lesser place because he's gone.
A man came into the Mission to tell us of his passing, so I know he had at least one friend in the world, such as this world is. I'm writing this tonight because I want the universe to know that someone will mourn his passing. I want the universe to know that I know he was loved of God, and that I - to the best that I am able, will honour his life, will honour the image of God that was in him, and will lament that he is gone from our world.