Monday, January 26, 2015

no i.d. no family and friends in sight. no eulogy or even a funeral. just a simple tweet that read: 'a man, believed to be homeless, has died after being found without vital signs at a yonge and dundas streetcar shelter'.

a day prior to this, another nameless man was found dead inside of a delivery truck on a cold winter's night.

and a few days after that, according to CP24, another man lost his life when his makeshift shelter caught on fire by the very flame he lit to keep himself warm.

sure, the latter man has been identified, but far too many haven't. want proof? go and read the 'homeless tribute' board located right outside of the infamous eaton centre; there you will find nothing but a list of john and jane does, along with their estimated death date. [example: jane doe - august 2013].

sad, isn't it?

i mean, can you, the reader, actually fathom what it would be like to disappear without a trace? to live your life only to be regarded as a random death, and even worse, a nameless human being? i sure can't.

but the truth is, identifiable to us or not, like you, every single one of 'them' has a story.

take my friend 'joe' for example.

i met joe when i was serving in one of the soup kitchens downtown. within a few minutes of talking, i had noticed that he had a tattoo of a couple dates on his neck. curious, and interested in tattoos, i asked him what its significance was.

"that one is when my wife was born", he said, "and this one is when she passed away". i gulped.

next thing you know, he began to share his life with me and one of the youth i was working with, and before we knew it, he was telling us how losing his wife was so traumatic that he didn't know how to cope. next thing he knew, he was drinking. a lot. so much in fact that he quickly lost his job, and his house, and then his kids ... all because he didn't know how to grieve. [who does, really?]

he wasn't - and isn't lazy. he didn't choose to live on the streets, nor did he choose for his wife to die. but it happened. all of it happened. and he hasn't been able to get back on his feet since.

if his story isn't eye opening enough, let me introduce you to my friend 'kyle'.

working in the financial district with over 300 employees underneath him, kyle was more than successful. that is, until the day his company decided to downgrade, and being one of the highest paid employees, and also one of the oldest, kyle was the first to go.

to his bewilderment, his severance package ran out before another company could take his resume [and his age] into consideration. next thing you know, kyle no longer had a job, or a home. kyle was homeless; a hard working and successful business man was homeless, and yet countless people walk by him every day and judge him as if he's a low-life who chose to be there.

these stories make you think, don't they? and they should. because they represent a vast majority of those who struggle with homelessness, and contrary to previous belief, every single person you walk by on the street has a story...and it's probably not what you think it is.

what's YOUR story?

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