Last Sunday morning a homeless man was found dead in Rotary Park. He was covered in snow with no foot steps around him. A woman walking her dog noticed his body burried in snow. I feared it would be one of the gentlemen I knew.
On Monday the local newspaper confirmed he was a man named "James" who had lived at the shelter for 15 years. My heart sank. I would indeed know him. However, with only the first name James, I couldn't figure out which "James" it was. There are many.
At work on wednesday the staff let me know who it was. James C. My heart sank some more.
The thing about working at a shelter is that it desensitizes you. After a year nothing really surprises you. You still mourn the loss of the people you know but it is just the sad reality of the streets. Having not worked at the shelter for almost 2 years I found that I grew a little more sensitive again. So on Wednesday no one seemed to be mourning James anymore. I guess there is just the need to move on, to try and prevent other sad circumstances from occuring. And surely some staff just didn't want to talk about it.
James was 54 years old. His kids are grown. He was a man with a great sense of humour. His running joke was about getting into his locker. He'd ask, "Can I get into my locker? I need to get my beer out!" and then he'd let out a big laugh.
I'll miss him and his jokes, but won't forget him. Just like the other friends I've lost, they are burned in my memory.