I heard the news today. A body was found under a bridge. The poor guy had been dead for awhile. We hear about these kinds of things all the time. People die everyday. How must it be to die alone and sick and forgotten under a bridge?
That body--it has a name. No surprise, every body has a name. We just have to care enough to find out what it is. Thomas. That was his name. I used to see him quite frequently at the Post Office. That's where I work, and that's where Thomas came almost every day looking for some mail. He was unkempt and ragged and smelling of booze, but he smiled every time he asked and thanked us even if there was nothing.
I keep thinking, Thomas was a baby once. He had a childhood. He had a life. He must have, right? As human beings we all have to start somewhere. At some point, somebody had to care for him. There had to be somebody out there who worried about Thomas. Somebody who changed his diapers when he was little, somebody who dressed him up in a costume and took him trick or treating, somebody who made him PB&J sandwiches and wrapped up a toy for him on Christmas day. Right?
Now, Thomas is dead. Is there a mother somewhere who mourns for him? Is there a brother, a sister, a cousin even, who is thinking about Thomas and wondering if he suffered there under that bridge? Do they even know that he is dead? Maybe there were dark times, maybe they fought with him about the booze. Maybe the addictions and the demons were too much for Thomas' family and they wrote him off. Most assuredly, Thomas made his choices, and maybe his family finally gave up and left him to his consequences.
It's true, we do make our choices. Thomas didn't die alone because the world conspired to break him down. He ended up where he did because of the choices he made. People cannot be saved who don't want to be saved. We are all adults here, we get that.
But you know what? Every life is precious, even wasted ones. And Thomas deserves to be mourned. He mattered and his death diminishes all of us. I will remember him as the customer who came in everyday and smiled and thanked us for our trouble.
So, so long, Thomas. I will take a moment and mourn for you today. I will mourn the troubled man who smiled anyway. I will mourn your unfulfilled dreams. But most of all, I will mourn the man that could have been, but wasn't.
Rest in peace.