Written by: Heather M. Night Staff, Intox
We stood in a circle like a grieving family and took turns washing our bodies with the smoke of his soul. One at a time we did the washing motion, some of us as tears rolled down our cheeks. My eyes glanced around watching the pain in their eyes as they folded their fingers together and let their hands hang in front of their bodies. I had never smudged before. We watched the shell as the grass slowly burned down to nothing. We stood in silence as we watched his soul climb to heaven...
My last memory of him was shared with the circle: We had a stack of gifts from the Christmas Wish List waiting to be claimed in the back room. I felt like Santa delivering some of them to the clients I knew who came in that night. I understand now why that big man in red is so jolly. The way their faces lit up and their lips parted cheek to cheek made me thankful for the giving people of Calgary.
He came in earlier than usual that night and slept in row 4 close to his friends. He awoke at 2am to get a drink of water and I jumped up to get his Christmas gifts from the back room. I brought them over to him as he sat on his mat. He smiled and said "thank you".
I perched on the table at the entrance of Intox where I sit sometimes in the middle of the night and scan the sleeping clients. I crossed my legs and watched him open his gifts. He unwrapped a winter hat and slowly placed it on his head. Ever so carefully, he took a winter scarf out of the box and slowly wrapped it around his neck. He treasured each gift as he opened them with such precision. He looked so happy, so content, so beautiful. The whole room was still.
His breath always smelled of Listerine and he was always smiling and the drinking slowly broke down his body and he died from hemorrhaging and we all really miss him.
This morning it felt like my greatest gift working at the Drop-In is just to love them. It felt like enough...and maybe it is.
Written by: Heather M, Night Staff, Intox