Out in the Cold

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Out in the Cold 1

I’ve never been very good with death. I’ve never been very good at coping with grown-ass men crying either. So, when I plodded into the living room this morning to see Bear crying on the sofa because his friend had died, you can imagine the shit show. He cried. I cried. There was snot everywhere. I have the ugliest cry-face ever, but Bear’s cry-face is soul destroying. It broke my heart. You could literally hear it crack, right down the middle.

His friend died. Bear hadn’t spoken to his friend in a while, not because they’d fallen out, but because they’d just drifted apart. They still asked about each other through mutual friends, but their lives had taken very different turns. At one point, this friend had been quite a successful chap, but he’d lost it all. He was homeless. He had nothing. I asked Bear how he’d passed away, because I’m the queen of inappropriate, abrasive questions at times that require softness and subtlety, and he told me it was because he was “out in the cold”.

What?

Out in the cold? He died because he was out in the cold? How does this happen? This is the 21st century, right? We have cars that can drive themselves around but men (and women) are still dying on the streets, “out in the cold”?

My heart is crushed. My heart is crushed because I give homeless people tea, coffee, biscuits, and sandwiches whenever I can. I throw money at homeless people that aren’t really homeless people, just people making a few extra quid by pretending to be homeless. Bear told me about this. He watched two homeless people have a drunken fight about who was the most homeless, and it turns out that some of them actually have a home.

Maybe I’ve been giving my money, biscuits, and sandwiches to the wrong people for my entire life?

To learn that someone had died on the street, out in the cold, three weeks before Christmas … Well, that’s making me cry as I write about it now. Bear’s napping. I’m sat at my desk, tapping away, tears streaming down my face almost like I knew this person myself. I didn’t. I didn’t even know the chap existed before today, but to learn of a demise like that? That shit is not right.

He made poor choices. Bear told me that. He’d gotten into drink and drugs with the same group of people that Bear had been involved with. It would have been so easy for him to have followed the same path, something else he told me today as he was engulfed by great, heaving sobs, crying a river of tears onto my shoulder. He told me that he was thankful to have me in his life and that he knew he wouldn’t be as well-off as he is now if it weren’t for me. The thought of that makes me uncomfortably delirious, all that power a little too much responsibility for me to bear. (Pun not intended.)

I’m glad Bear went to nap because I feel really overwhelmed with emotion. It’s kinda embarrassing to sob uncontrollably over the death of a man I didn’t know. But the weather has been so cold, I’ve moaned about it from INSIDE my home, and there was a man dying, with nothing, “out in the cold”. That man was Bear’s friend. He was a drug addict and an alcoholic, but he was once a very good man, a successful, kind, and generous one, with the whole world in his hands. How on earth did it all manage to go so wrong? How did he manage to lose everything? Literally, everything? Including his life?

It makes me want to wrap my arms around my Bear and squeeze real tight. He’s had the toughest few years, the recession hitting hard and swiping his business, home, and most of what he owned from right under him. But it could have been so much worse, and I think he realised that today. His tears weren’t just tears of total sadness, but of relief too, I think. Relief that it wasn’t him out there when it could quite easily have been.

I don’t even know what my tears were for, but I do know that I can’t just sit back and do nothing about this. I need to do something, I feel like I/we *must* do something. I wish I had all the money in the world right now so that I could give a warm bed to those who need it tonight. For now, I’m going to check out local shelters and homeless organisations to see if I can help. My heart hurts far too much to just sit back and do nothing now.

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