There she was, in the middle of Market Street. It’s one of the busiest streets in San Francisco and the place where tourist observe the vibrant life of the city while busy locals rush by on their way to work. She was right there by the hungry mouth of the metro exit, where thousands of people commute by on their daily pilgrimage. By her side sat a loving loyal dog.
Maybe it was the way she was sitting that made me react. As a nurse, I am familiar with the way people look when a heart stops beating and they are no longer a soul among us. There is something particularly peaceful about them. It's as if they were gently asleep. It is a particular kind of deep sleep, the kind where you float effortlessly from one dream to another. The sleep where you are quite heavy in your body, so heavy that you could imagine making an imprint in the mattress. The perfect sleep, where you want to stay when the clock rings and reality hits you awake.
At first, I thought she was asleep. The idea that she still sat motionless, able to sleep in the midst of all that human swarming, gave me a sharp stab in the stomach. But on the other hand, it's far from the first time I've seen that scene since moving to San Francisco.
Somehow, I knew it was too late. Nothing more could be done for her, but I walked towards her anyway. On my way to her a side a man stopped me and said, “ I have already called the paramedic”. As we both knew, there was no doubt. She had been sitting there for a while. Perhaps we were not able to save her. But maybe she was saved in a bigger sense, from all mortal hardship and pain. The man and I had a short conversation. He said was going to wait for the paramedics to arrive. He wanted to make sure she received proper final arrangements in a respectful way and that her loyal dog was well taken care of. He was going to bring the dog home himself, if needed.
Afterwards, my thoughts were filled with this woman. I still see her sitting there, on the busiest street in San Francisco. I can still see how everyone walks past her, invisible. Even though I think most people would have known that she was dead, if only they would have just looked up from the distracted glow of their phones. And that's what scares me. It scares me that such a young woman can fall asleep forever in the middle of the street, in the midst of people, and nobody stops or wonders why. I think the problem is that we have become used to the homeless being part of the street scene. We do not react anymore because there is nothing different than what we expect to experience.
I don't know if this woman, had any family or friends. I don’t know who will miss her or even remember her after her death. I will never know. I'm also pretty sure that it will not be the last time I will experience this in San Francisco, unfortunately.
That’s why it's so important to Blossom that the woman on Market Street is remembered. Blossom will light a candle for her. And now we share her to your heart as well. Let Blossom be a light to service for others who cannot repay our kindness. In this way may we all learn what it is to illuminate hope for others.