It has been four years since they found you on the beach in West haven, CT. Without a pulse. Without a breath. Four years since that awful day when the trauma of chronic homelessness finally took its toll. I miss you more with each passing day as you are absent from the milestones, celebrations, and mishaps of life.
I miss the sweet sound of your voice saying I love you.
I miss your desire to help others and stand up for justice - even when you had nothing.
I miss you asking about my day, my travels, and when the heck we would get married. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed that.
I miss your thirst for reading and news.
I miss sending you care packages with your favorite items. Face cream and hair dryers were important even when you didn't have a safe place to sleep.
I miss the excitement you shared when you thought about moving from the streets into your own place – the meticulous details of how you would set up the apartment, the comforter you would choose, the fish bowl you would get. Simple things that make a house a home. Simple things you take for granted when you are housed.
I miss the love you had for dad - even during the worst of times. I wish you were here to care for him during his latest cancer battle. You would be proud of him.
And I miss your hope that we could go back to the way things once were.
But we can’t go back. And as much as I miss you – I don’t miss the life you were living. Homelessness is cruel, lonely, humiliating, painful, and exhausting. It was for you and for us.
I don’t miss the daily arguments about where you would sleep. An emergency shelter, a hotel, a laundry mat, or outside the church in our hometown. No one should make these choices.
I don’t miss worrying that you would be arrested when you would stay in dads storage locker – that one that you set up to look like home.
I don’t miss the tears and pain of you being harassed, hurt, or arrested.
I don’t miss the ferocious displays of anger, jealousy, and resentment brought on by your mental illness and substance abuse.
I don’t miss the agony we felt every time you went missing for days or weeks at a time.
Most of all I don’t miss the fear of you dying alone on the streets…because that has already happened.
I’ve been traveling the last few weeks and to honor your passing I visited St. Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. I lit candles - and didn’t even burn the place down. I marveled in the beauty of the Church and the history it has of welcoming people with open doors. You would have loved it. I'm sorry that you couldn't see it and for so much more.
I sorry that I didn’t recognize how much your childhood impacted your adult decisions and behaviors. Adverse Childhood Experiences shape lives and you are a prime example.
I am so sorry that you didn’t live long enough to see Connecticut open more Housing First units and reduce homelessness – that is what you needed and what you deserved.
I am so sorry that you don’t have the opportunity to go home. To a place where you could learn, care, and grow old.
I am so sorry that you aren’t here to share your story and most of all that your story didn’t turn out differently. The story that homelessness can happen to anyone. That mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. That substance abuse is a disease not simply a choice. And most of all that the solution to homelessness is housing.
My promise to you is that I will keep fighting. I will keep fighting for the moms and dads and kids and veterans who experience homelessness. I will keep fighting against our current administration (you would be so angry with Trump) to protect and grow affordable housing. I will keep fighting Mom - because you always fought for me and homelessness is a battle that noone should face.
Love you more. Miss you always.