Today’s first round of emails included the news that one of our longer-term clients, Rosemarie, had died. She was found on her usual bus bench, by the Vons in South Glendale, across the street from the hospital. Rosemarie was sweet and quiet and lived in a world we could not penetrate. A few weeks ago she had a mishap in our shower and I hoped that it might prompt her to change her mind about refusing services. It didn’t.
This afternoon a small group of us, staff, clients, and supportive community members, gathered to remember Rosemarie, and 6 other homeless and formerly homeless people who had died this year. This annual ritual is important, but wearing. It reminds us that mental illness and addiction are formidable barriers, and in some cases, even the system set up to help homeless people can be a great challenge.
Yet two people we remembered did accept help and when they died, it was not on the streets, but in their own homes. As much as Terry, Billy, Eddie Linda and Rosemarie may remind of us of how hard it can be to leave homelessness, William and Dale give us hope that renewal is possible.
For those of us who continue to draw breath, the responsibility continues.
“Because you are alive, everything is possible.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh
If you are homeless in Glendale or Los Angeles County, please see here for information about winter shelter programs that are now open.