I’ve seen the needle and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun.
– Neil Young
I heard through the grapevine, which is every bit as accurate as the Media, that there was a fatal overdose at The Shep’s last night. A 19 year old kid.
Death’s not uncommon in the Jungle but it still takes its emotional toll, and the street is such a tight knit community that every death is like losing a family member, albeit a distant relative most of the time. Doesn’t matter if you beat the crap out of the guy last weak. Tonight he’s your brother.
Each of the main shelters in Ottawa — The Mission (where I’m staying), The Shep’s (where I worked), and The Sally — hold services for those who die without family. The Mission buries the lion’s share because of it’s Hospice — palliative care for dying street folk. Each name is engraved on one of the dozens of bronzed plaques lining the wall of the Mission chapel — 162 names since the year of the New York bombing.
My third night at the Mission I was sucking back smoke and shooting the breeze just outside the Hospice entrance. I didn’t take much notice of the paramedics showing up. It’s a pretty common occurrence. A few minutes later, however, the paramedics returned pushing a powder blue body bag on a gurney. No one even turned to look. It is what it is.