B. had washed up at Resu-rection H-use, S-rasota, FL as another homeless veteran, battling a “demon” of addiction. That’s where I got to know him.
His recovery was so profound that the House employed him as a gopher, dogsbody, pinch-hitter et al. He was always prompt, cheerful and hard working. We hit it off right away, and would hang together and smoke up a storm on our breaks.
It was clear that he adored his dad, passed from this life, but formerly a career man in the U.S.A.F. That explains why B. had been born in Morocco and why he had been educated in private schools.
Somewhere along the line B. got married and, with his wife, had two children. But that was “way back then”. B. had not seen his children in many a day.
He never told me what had happened, but it was more than clear that his addiction (booze, drugs, sex) had led to a deep alienation from his children.
About a year ago B. was diagnosed as having a mean cancer. His well-learned and unrealistic optimism about all of life led him to be sure that he would beat the odds and have a good recovery.
Some R-s H-use volunteers worked hard to trace B’s children, and his brother. He got to visit with them and had a brief but happy reunion. It was very brief. “Something” again went sour with him and his family members.
He drifted away from R-s H-use. He had a girl friend. He and she fought like cats and dogs. He left her and moved in with girl-friend #2. He was prescribed a narcotic pain killer which he sold on the streets.
He was “found out” in this misdemeanor and the Oncologist refused to prescribe any more. Her source of money being ended, girl friend #2 threw him out, and he arrived at the door-step of girl friend #1, in terrible pain. She took him in.
His physical condition and pain were so terrible that he was moved to a residential hospice where within day he died.
We gathered today to scatter B’s ashes in the sea. We were eight folks (staff and volunteers) from R-s H-use and five of B’s pals. Girl-friend # 1 had made all the plans.
I wore my clerical haberdashery in order to honour B, and I read the burial prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. We burned sage to honour B’s Native –American heritage (he was 50% Choctaw with the Indian name “Two Feathers”.)
As I cast B’s remains into the sea I reminded us that “Heaven is not a reward for those who are good. It is a gift for those who are loved.”