With the feel like temperature of -20°, Chicago is colder by the hour and is bringing the weaker closer to a frigid homicide with each laborer breath. Everything is desperate for heat as the denser cement steals warmth from the softer man’s flesh causing frostbite and pain.
The homeless cocoon themselves in filthy layers of soiled clothes and frozen blankets. They wear this strange beauty like a uniform against the attaching glacial enemy. This numb death creeps inward and starts to fill one up, and after a while the homeless don’t have the strength to fight it.
I asked Dan, a 28yo homeless man, if he’d survive the next couple days of cold. Without skipping a beat, Dan said “Well, my man Ed Sheeran said that…’It’s too cold outside for angels to fly’…but here you are brother with blankets, boots and hot coffee.”
A bit taken aback at the quickness of Dan’s comments, I took in a deep breath while bandaging his infected wounds. He had hit the arteries on both arms and had developed assesses opposite his elbows. While regaining my focus at the medical aid at hand, I noticed a cursive tattoo on his forearm that read, “she was an angel craving chaos, he was a demon seeking peace.”. As I applied some disinfectant on a gauze pad, I asked if it was burning his arm.
“Nothing burns like the cold, [brother]”. And to that, I noticed a pile of George R.R. Martin books alongside his bedroll.
With the wounds cleaned and bandaged, Beth left him with a couple week’s worth of medical supplies while my kids, Brayden and Brighton, distributed hot drinks to those around the bus.
As 2017 extinguishes itself in a rush of howling winds and subzero breaths, the New Year arrives, cold as frozen iron with icy drafts that attach inner warmth and erode a desperate man’s hope for the year to come.
I hope our collective blessings will continue to find there way to those so apart from society; and that the touch of a well-wishers hand and the talk with a friend allows for strength against the winds of Winter, and that Spring is soon behind.