Wednesday, October 1, 2008
One of my clients died on Monday. An older woman, although certainly not old by Western standards... old for the street though. She likely died of alcohol or drug related causes, they'll be no autopsy, it doesn't really matter after all.
This woman lived on and off the street for a number of years, various family members and friends took her in at various times, but always she returned to the street and to the shelter. Even when she had a place to go, she could often be found drinking on the curb and then crashing in the shelter with her friend.
Her health was horrible, she weighed next to nothing, and had a hard time ambulating. Even with her walker, watching her, you were also concerned she just wouldn't quite make it across the street. She had lice recently, the worse case you can imagine. It was literally eating her alive before she noticed and sought treatment for her "sore head". Staff treated her but wound up cutting most of her hair out because the mats were so thick. At one point a piece of her scalp ripped off, she just didn't feel the pain.
Knowing she's not here anymore, knowing she is no longer wandering the streets, drinking constantly and sleeping on the ground, well, it doesn't make me sad. I'm sad that her life had to end the way it did, alone, in a hospital, picked up off the street in a random place she didn't usually frequent, but I'm not sad that it ended. I'm sad that her life did not improve, and that she died on the streets she lived on. She was planning on coming to detox, and starting to get her life turned around. Now she'll never have that chance. That, that, I'm sad about. But that she's no longer suffering? For that, I am grateful.