Last Monday was status quo. We were preparing lunches and groceries for Parkdale locals, with some desserts on the side. When we set up outside and started serving and conversing with our friends and neighbours along Cowan Avenue, it was (as it usually is) life-giving.
On this occasion I had the pleasure of offering a “Dale Devotional” – a 7-day devotional book we created recently which is filled with prayer exercises, Scripture readings, songs, and reflections on our search for God during this current pandemic – to many of our friends, including “John.”
I’ve been in Parkdale now for two and a half years. I met John this past year, and I have always looked forward to seeing him. He’s not been hard to find, either. He has spent a lot of time outdoors near the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre – a place we frequent or walk past often.
Last Tuesday however, we learned that “John” had passed away that very night. It was unexpected to say the least. I always appreciated his smile, welcoming attitude, and humble outlook on life. He was one of the first people I met upon joining The Dale who welcomed my presence and felt comfortable to get to know me. I recall a conversation this past winter, when on a cold day he declared that “every day is a gift from God.” He was big on these kinds of blessings – waking up to a new day, and just being able to walk around. He loved to cook for others, and did so many times at the Health Centre.
I’m reminded of his presence (and now his absence) every time we walk past the Health Centre. Instead of his self, there is now a memorial there in his place. He will be missed. I will miss him. I do miss him.