He smiles a sad smile, a bit reserved, a bit wary, and I say hello. Would you like a bowl of soup. Yes, please, he says. I serve him up a healthy portion, he takes it from me and joins the others in the room who hunch over their steaming bowls, enjoying some comforting warmth on a cold day.
I’ve met Kelvin previously, he’s always polite, quiet, but he will talk if you engage. He is a good looking young man, keeps to himself mostly. I wonder what his story is?
After lunch he comes over to me and says can you help me please? I say yes, anything. He says, can you help me in the clothing room? I say sure. The two of us look though the clothing for what he needs…a pair of shorts that he can work out and go swimming in. I’m trying to get in shape he says, going to the Parkinson, but I need shorts. I find him a pair, and they look like the right size. Yes, those will work well, he says. Thanks.
Next time I see him he is running downtown, looking fast and fit and he doesn’t see me because I’m in the car with my husband, driving by him on the sidewalk and I say, I know that guy. And I tell my husband about how Kelvin is working on his fitness, how he is intentional about getting in shape, and doesn’t he look amazing? What an great story, my husband says.
Less than two weeks go by and I hear Kelvin has passed away. At first I don’t make the connection, the name, the person. Then I see his photograph. But…is all I can manage to think and say…but…how…
I meet a friend of Kelvin’s on the sidewalk outside the Mission. She is angry, in disbelief, wondering how can this be? They just spoke. He sounded so good. This can’t be true. What happened? I don’t know, I say. I listen. I promise to keep in contact over the few days that will include planning a memorial, and coming to terms with losing another young life.
I’m not used to this harsh reality, and wonder if I will ever be? Each time I hear we have lost a community member, I wonder who it is this time? I try to recall our last interaction. I think of being hopeless and alone, like that. I think of how we might have intervened, changed the outcome. I think about a lot of things.
Rest in Peace, Kelvin.
Story by Lesley-Anne Evans, photographs by Laurence East
Kelvin participated in a Metro Community collaborative creation of a clay vessel, facilitated by our potter Marijanel Knight. I’m fairly certain that Kelvin molded his piece of clay into a heart shape, which he is applying to the vessel in the photograph above. How beautiful that a part of Kelvin is still with us, now fired and glazed into the whole.