I passed the alcove the other day, the one I had seen her resting in from time to time, and was surprised to see a single candle burning there. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. Life on the streets is not easy and life, regardless of where it is lived, only ever ends one way. We will all have a candle lit in our memory at some point. Still, I was surprised.
She was the inspiration for this series, these “Safe” posts. I had seen her sitting in the alcove, smiling out at the warming day, as the princes and I passed along on our way to the park. She wasn’t always there but she was there enough that it made me start to think about why she would be there and where she would go when she wasn’t there. Each of these posts has been about my thoughts working through the life she had. And now that life has come to an end so these posts will as well.
I will never know why she was on the streets in the first place and what caused her death. I could speculate based on appearance, based on the observations I made on her behavior, but what purpose would that serve. If I truly cared, I could have done more. I could have done more than say “Hello” and offer the occasional donut or bottle of water or spare dollar from my pocket. I could have asked her name. I could have asked what she really needed rather than falling on what was easy for me to offer at the time. My opportunities to do so, with her, have been missed.
If someone else claims the alcove once her candle has burned out and been swept away, will I do more?
Only time will tell.
Thank you for going on this journey with me. When I wrote the first post I had no idea what it would become. Without some encouragement from my readers it likely would have ended there. I’m glad it didn’t. I’m glad I forced my eyes to open a little more and to see the parts of my community that I most often ignored. I wish it could have had a happier ending. Though, in truth, I’m not sure what that would have looked like… speculative fiction at best… The real world rarely provides happy endings. Death is inevitable. And a candle will be lit if we are lucky enough to have people who care to light them.
That is something we should hope for. That is something we should more than hope for. We should work for it. We should care about others and prove that we care through words and actions and thoughts and prayers and whatever it takes. If we care, they will. Then when it is our turn, the candles will be lit and those who strike the match and touch it to the wick will have happy memories to hold onto. And there is the best happy ending any of us could hope for.