Chronic Funny Business Syndrome
Don was one of the most colorful people I had met at JOIN. I met Don in inner southeast Portland in late 2004, and it took the better part of 6 months before he trusted my intent on offering him a way off the streets. He was successful in finding a studio apartment in mid 2005.
Time went on, and his love of wine and disdain of compliance with mainstream norms of cleanliness began to take their toll. His landlord began issuing the “clean up or pack up” ultimatums, which Don ignored. I knew his time in housing was coming to an end.
After two days of knocking on his door with no response, I pushed it open. He must have been on his floor for a few days. I couldn’t get myself to look at his face – death is not something I handle well. The police were the first to arrive. I know their job probably demands the development of a grim sense of humor, but I found their disparaging comments about Don and his situation both insensitive and dehumanizing. I kept quiet. The medical examiner was more compassionate about the situation. He said that it was unlikely that an autopsy would be done, since there was no foul play. Since Don didn’t have any extended family, his passing would go unnoticed by society… no death announcement, no burial stone, no recognition of his time with us in this life.
I guess this blog will have to suffice. I think of Don often.