Standing at the end of the hospital bed watching my husband bending low so that Don could see his face I heard Freddie’s words quietly drift my way. “I love you buddy,” (silence) Tears pushed towards the edges of my eyes as I blinked several times hoping to hold the river back. Again, just a bit softer I heard, “Don, I love you man, I love you.” My face now was wet from the endless supply of tears I did not know were there. I just cried and looked away as my husband stood upright and turned to look my way.

Missy had already walked into the hall and now had returned to the doorway I supposed wondering what was taking us so long. As I glanced her way I saw she too was crying.

There we were; the three amigos, once again walking silently down the long hall towards the elevator. Each one of us in our own thoughts about Don. This time our laughter and light-hearted humor had been dashed in room 624 in a matter of seconds knowing when we entered his room that something had turned really wrong from the day before.

Missy and I saw a normal happy Don only days before. May 14th to be exact we stopped by the camp to do as we always do and that being to make sure everyone was alive and well.

Shaky Roy had just been released from jail so much of our conversation was with him however there was Sam, Jimmy and of course Don all pressing, trying to steal our attention away from Roy in hopes that we hadn’t forgotten them as well.

We stayed longer than we normally would because much conversation was with Sam and I about God. Sam didn’t believe in God and I on the other hand do so my door was open and I ran with it. I noticed that Don kept up with my conversation with Sam and he was crying a lot. Roy had sold his food stamps, had cash, and there was a lot of beer being drunk. I simply assumed that was why Don kept crying. He has done this before yet something did seem different and I just brushed the thought away.

After visiting for maybe another 20 min. I suggested to Missy we should go and as we stood to leave Don stood up and said, “Before you go, I want to pray.” Forming a circle as we gathered hands we all stood in a clear spot among all the beer cans, bottles and trash.

Thinking Don was expecting me to pray I opened my mouth and before I could say any words Don began to pray. I closed my eyes and listened. He asked God to bless our ministry and to help us. He thanked Him for our kindness and caring. As always he prayed for the homeless on the streets. All the homeless men never seem to forget this prayer as we often do. Before another man prayed that day Don reminded God that he was a good man. That he would help anyone when and if he could and to also remember God, “Look at my heart and not what I do.”

A few days later we went back to camp and he was gone. Word on the street is faster than internet and in minutes we found out Don was in the hospital.

As of today because we are not family we have no idea what is wrong with him. Could be a stroke… there is evidence someone punched him in his eye and crushed his cheekbone. Every single day we visit he is becoming worse and again no hospital staff will talk to us.

Yesterday I did ask them “IF” something happens to him, please call us. We’re all he has! She said they would but we won’t hold our breath.

However we will continue to daily go check on him. Today he didn’t recognize any of us. That broke my heart. Yesterday I could make him smile. Don always would smile for me. Today nothing.

Later Missy said to me that it’s just too soon to lose another one. She’s right it is. But wether it be 3 months or 3 years it’s always too soon to lose any of the men.

They aren’t just guys that live under bridges, in empty buildings or under a bush. They are my friends. We love them like family and when they hurt…well, many don’t understand, we hurt as well. When they laugh you can bet we laugh and when one of them cries I personally want to wipe their tears away.

Tomorrow we will be back up at the hospital holding our breaths as we walk around the corner into his room. Right now it looks like he will lay there until he dies. But you know we have seen worse and they hung on for 18 months.

I’m just not ready to say goodbye…I’m just not ready.


3 Responses to “Don”

  1. I remember Don. I have pictures of him from our trip nearly two years ago. Has it been that long? It seems like yesterday.

    I’ll keep Don in my prayers and you all who care for him need prayers too.

    Yes, it’s too soon, again.

  2. That is a compelling sharing, Jaye. My thoughts and prayers are with Don and all those you help. Yes, IT is way too soon for another passing of a friend there on the 14th Street Bridge there.

    Thank you for being the angel of these individuals who are human, too. Bless you, Jaye, your husband and Missy for all that you do and with beautiful compassion.

  3. ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’

    Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’. Matt 25:39-41

    What you do in love will live on forever! I don’t even know you, but we are kindred spirits and sisters in Christ. One day we shall hear these words proclaimed over your life:

    “Well done, My good and faithful servant. Enter into your Father’s rest.”

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