Sometimes something happens at The Dale that I immediately want to share here, but realize a little time needs to pass before I can. I endeavour to be careful in my storytelling, for the things I write about are non-fiction. I seek permission before I write and quite often, though not always (depending on the situation) change or leave out names and other identifying features. The following happened last year.
A friend came into the Monday Drop-In skittish and looking for me. This person’s long time partner had died nearly a month before and I’d been concerned that we hadn’t seen much of one another since that day. I immediately knew something was very wrong.
I learned that morning how my friend hadn’t been able to cope with the death. None of the necessary arrangements had been made and the deceased remained unclaimed at the hospital. My heart broke for both my friends: the one enveloped by grief and the one needing a dignified end. I promised that I would help take care of things.
Over the next number of days I had countless conversations with the hospital, a funeral home and the city. I sat on my couch one night overwhelmed with sadness that had The Dale not gotten involved, the deceased would have been buried in an unmarked grave. No one believed (including the partner) that next of kin would be located, but I shockingly managed to find them. In six days everything was sorted out and I finally exhaled the breath that I think I’d been holding since the Drop-In.
As I recount this story I think about the gravity of the situation and how precious it was to be invited in. This kind of thing happens all too often. Did you know the city has a burial place for people who in death are left nameless? For a variety of reasons I can’t share my friend’s name here, but that is not because it is forgotten, not by The Dale and certainly not God. It is a name that will forever be etched on my heart.