"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust

In my last post, I mentioned how cold it was Sunday morning.

What I did not mention was what I saw while on my run.

I sat out that morning intent on logging 10 miles and like most creatures of habit, embarked on a route I’ve run many times before. One leg of this particular course passes through a neighborhood of our city which is unlikely to appear on any Welcome to the Star City brochures or websites.

Like many cities of our demographic makeup, we have our good areas and our bad.

We have what I like to call Destiny Number 1; the well kept upwardly mobile, 2 car, 2.5 kids, single family dwelling, white picket fence, L.L. Bean Golden Retriever, flowers on the front porch neighborhoods.

And then we have our share of Destiny Number 2 areas which are often in various stages of disrepair and rife with crime, transients, drugs and wholesale violence.

If we work hard and obey the law, the theory is we increase our chances of living in the world of Destiny Number 1... but there’s no guarantee.

We also need a few lucky breaks along the way, particularly when we are young and seemingly bullet proof. Otherwise, the bad decisions we inevitably make can and often do set us on a spiraling course which before we know it, lands us right smack dab in the middle of Destiny Number 2.

I saw one of these unfortunate souls as I passed through this part of town early Sunday morning. He was face down in a vacant lot. The area was sealed off with the all too familiar yellow police tape and several officers milled about as they waited for the ambulance to transport him to the morgue.

I couldn’t know then what led to his demise and as I continued to run, I tried to force it from my mind. But the nagging question of “What happened,” continued to haunt me.

Over the course of the next two days, I followed the local media, looking and listening for any news of what might have happened, but there was none forthcoming.

After work on Ash Wednesday, I went to Mass and as I sat listening to the message of Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris - Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return, I thought again of the dead man in the vacant lot.

What circumstances led him to his fate?

On Thursday I found out from a police officer that this man was a homeless transient and died of a heart attack.

Was he trying to make it to the Rescue Mission, the Samaritan Inn or one of the other shelters which house, feed and clothe those who are in need?

I don’t know.

I only know it was 12° that morning and likely colder through the night.

And this man died alone.

1 comment:

Fe-lady said...

Sobering thoughts...
We have many homeless here too and many places for them to stay when it gets colder.
Many don't take advantage of this though for whatever reasons.
All I can say is.."there but for the grace of God, go I". We are all susceptible...but not all of us are loved.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post.