I don’t know all that much about her really. We never talked long.
Where did she come from? Or had she always lived here? Did she have any family? Did she have a job? Why did she hang out on that particular street corner? What was life like for her? These are questions I don’t know answers to.
About the only thing I know was her name was Jennifer.
I passed her often – usually on the way to and from the grocery store. She liked to hang out near the entrance to the ‘L’.
Our conversations were brief most of the time – not touching on anything particularly remarkable. But they were a bright moment in the day nonetheless.
She liked to ask about my family – especially my daughter who she thought was “so special”. Every time I or my wife passed with our daughter, she’d stop us and smile. She had a great smile – a big grin full of missing teeth. You could always tell it was genuine.
From time to time she’d ask for change – a small bite to eat. And from time to time we’d help her. I’d gave her some change. My wife gave her a pair of jeans. Perhaps what we offered were but small kindnesses, but I hope it was more than that. I hope it made a small difference. I hope it showed she was a somebody to us.
Then one day we realized we hadn’t seen her in a while.
That wasn’t all that surprising of an event. I’m used to people disappearing. Sometimes they get a job and are able to leave the streets. Sometimes they move to a different neighborhood. And other times, well, you hope the best for them.
Yet recently, my wife found out that Jennifer had passed away.
I think about her often. I think of her smile. I think of the way she loved our daughter. I think of the many brief conversations we had by the ‘L’ station.
I’ll miss her.
Maybe I never knew her all that well. I’ll probably never know too much about her. But I do know she was a human being. I know she’s worth remembering.